The Miscellany News
Volume CXLVI | Issue 19
April 11, 2013
Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Panel Farmers, students push for equality Revealing discusses financial gun issue aid secrets Anna Iovine
VC professors, community study gun violence
courtesy of Giselle Sanchez Huerta
Bethan Johnson editor-in-CHieF
On Sunday April 6, Vassar students and faculty joined forces with the Poughkeepsie community to explore the roots of gun violence in present-day America. The discussion, titled “What’s Up With Gun Violence In The United States?” featured three panelists: Professor of Sociology of and Women’s Studies Diane Harriford, Professor of Sociology Eileen Leonard and Professor of Political Science Sidney Plotkin. Visiting Political Science Professor John Wallach moderated the discussion. The event was sponsored by the Social Action Committee of the Congregation Shir Cadash of the Hudson Valley and the Vassar College Political Science Department. One of the co-chairs of the Social Action Committee explained that the congregation’s decision to host this panel fits in with its aims as a congregation. “[The congregation is] very committed to programs See GUNS PANEL on page 4
Vassar students discussed unfair labor laws with NY migrant farm workers in an April 9 panel . Audience members and panelists marched into Poughkeepsie in support of just labor laws for all farm workers. Pictured above, the April 7 rally in Newburgh. Noble Ingram
assistant neWs editor
On Tuesday April 9, Vassar students and members of the Poughkeepsie community gathered for a panel discussion and march in support of farm workers’ rights. The event was titled “Shield the Fields: Equality Tour Discussion and Vigil.” The compilation of events took place in the New England Building, starting as a panel discussion with four male and two female migrant farmers from New York State. After the discussion, the group broke into informal conversation and sign-making before they group began their march from the building and made its way through campus ending at the main arterial in Poughkeepsie with a vigil.
The discussion and vigil was part of a tour supporting justice for a farm workers campaign that started Saturday in New York City. The event was hosted by the Poughkeepsie office of Rural & Migrant Ministry and was organized in part by Vassar students who intern at the Ministry. According to Giselle Huerta ’16, an intern at Rural & Migrant Ministry in Poughkeepsie, “It’s the Farm Worker Equality Tour. They’re having a tour in all of New York State because these are farm workers from New York State. So they started off with a press conference in New York City and now they’re working their way up. It’s a week-long tour.” Huerta continued, describing the farm workers who are on tour,
“They’re migrant farm workers, farm workers that came here in search of jobs and what [happened] was they were exploited and they were taken advantage of.” The panel discussion dealt with issues relating to migrant farmers’ rights with specific focus on a bill up for consideration by the New York state legislature. The bill would extend the same rights to all farm workers, both undocumented and other field workers. One example of the inequity of workers’ rights in the farming industry was brought up by a few of the migrant farmer panel members. Migrant farmers aren’t required to have worker’s compensation for injuries on the job. This is particularly See FARM WORKERS on page 3
Though there are a number of mysteries Vassar students might wonder about on a daily basis—when the Terrace Apartment bridge will be rebuilt, for one—financial aid packages often remain the most mysterious of these. When students look at their financial aid statements for the 2013-2014 school year, they might see some aid money go towards inexact expenses such as travel and books. This portion of aid does not go towards tuition, fees, or room and board, nor is it a work-study contribution. Students might be unsure, then, of what the seemingly excess aid is for. This is what happened to Lorena Lomeli Moreno ’15 when she read her award letter last year. “I noticed that the Financial Aid Award letter that came in the mail stated that a portion of my financial aid was to go towards books and transportation; I was curious how this would work out,” she said in an e-mailed statement. Moreno then went to the Office of Financial Aid, where she was told that these travel and book expenses were excess credit of about $800 in her student account. The office put this credit in her account after considering outside scholarships she received, according to Moreno. This excess credit is not an acciSee FINANCIAL AID on page 6
Polo seeks VC Athletics recognition Phil’s God of Carnage a comedic social critique Show offers unique, deft insight into the tropes of adulthood John Plotz reporter
courtesy of Natalie Nicelli
The Vassar Polo Team projects an image of inclusivity and accessibility to combat polo’s traditionally elitist associations. The sports team is actually a VSA-funded organization and hopes to gain recognition from the Athletic department. Meaghan Hughes sports editor
When people think of polo, they most likely conjure up an image similar to Ralph Lauren ads filled with green pastures and immaculate riding costumes. But at Vassar the sport, where it may not be the most popular athletic endeavor, is in fact quite welcoming and very intense. The Vassar Polo Team is made up of a group of students dedicated to dispelling the myth of inaccessibility that surrounds the
sport. The Polo Team is currently a club sport funded by the VSA but team members are working to change that as a way of getting the sport the recognition they feel it deserves. “We are also in the process of trying to get financial support from the athletic department at Vassar,” Treasurer sophomore Alexandra Sanfuentes noted. “There are only about 40 colleges in the United States that have polo teams and the majority of those teams have recog-
Inside this issue
From VC to ABC: one alumna’s story of success
nition by their athletic departments. It would be such a shame to lose our place in the ranks of those select few schools simply because we don’t have the support we need to play. We were one of the first schools to have a women’s polo team. The last thing we want is to see it disappear.” The team seeks to stir up interest in polo, and assures their fellow students that it does not cater only to elitist interests. Sanfuentes had her first experience with the sport upon See POLO on page 20
Staff Editorial: Our response to the NRO and political climate
The word “carnage” is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as the “Great and usually bloody slaughter or injury (as in battle).” Parisian playwright Yasmina Reza’s 2006 play, to be performed this Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm in the Kenyon Club Room, may not be a literal bloodbath as this definition suggests, but it does depict the slaughter and injury of the social norms American society grows to adopt. “God of Carnage,” directed by Katie Shirilla ’13 and produced by Philalatheis, takes place in an unassuming Brooklyn apartment. In it, two middle-aged couples have convened to discuss the fact that one of the couple’s sons has hit and injured the other couple’s son, causing him to require medical attention. This bloodshed is as physically violent as the play gets; however, it is merely the catalyst for the carnage yet to come. What begins as a civil and practi-
cal discussion of what action ought to be taken quickly devolves into an immature, brutal and depraved argument in which these successful adults abandon the social rules that force them to behave properly. The play, originally written in French and set in Paris, has received wide acclaim in its short history. In 2008, after having been translated into English and moved to the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End, “God of Carnage” won the Olivier Award for Best New Play of the Year. When it relocated to America, it garnered a league of Tony nominations and was the third longest running play of the 2000s. The play was adapted for the screen in 2011 by Roman Polanski, under whom the title changed to Carnage. These reasons, however, were not why Shirilla chose to direct it. After directing a successful directing workshop during the fall of 2012, she felt encouraged to search for a full-length play to take on. Shirillareceived the title of Reza’s play as a See CARNAGE on page 15
Schwartz brings alternative nature poetry in time for spring
The Miscellany News
April 11, 2013
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MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
April 11, 2013
Butler reframes identity in Zionism debate Rachael Borné
Great Britain’s ‘Iron Lady’ Dies at 87
Courtesy of Wikimedia
During her lecture on Monday April 9, 2013, Judith Butler framed her discussion around a seemingly straightforward question: ‘What does it mean to be a Zionist?’ The talk, entitled ‘Martin Buber’s Two Zionisms and the Question of Palestine,’ dove headfirst into complicating this query. Butler discussed the often-polarizing identities of Zionist and Anti-Zionist within the Israel-Palestine conflict in conjunction with 20th century existentialist philosopher Martin Buber’s idea of dialogic ethics. Butler dissected the notion that to be Zionist means simply to believe in the right of the Israeli state to exist. “What I’m offering is an experiment in thought—trying to go forwards by going backwards,” she said. Buber, who is best known for his book I and Thou, emphasized the importance of dialogue and encounter in human existence. The I-Thou relationship hinges on the codependent, mutual experiences of life between people. Pulling from this basic symbiotic understanding, Butler quoted Buber: “One human should treat another not as an object, but as someone who can be addressed directly and with whom a form of communication considered spiritual might take place.” Cory Epstein ’13, a Political Science and Jewish Studies double major who spent last year studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained of the lecture, “She located an earlier Jewish memory to inform the Jewish present. Memory plays a major role in biblical and contemporary Judaism.” Butler applied Buber’s thinking to the Zionist identity, citing Buber’s two definitions of Zionism. One stresses a spiritual renewal, restoration, and purification of the Israeli people—a return to the true Israel. The other defines rebirth as a process of normalization that utilizes the established ideas of nationalism and the nation state. Buber, who advocated the former, spiritual definition, exhibited a commitment to dialogue, one with which Butler aligned herself in her critique of nationalist sovereignty. To extend sovereignty exclusively to the Jewish people, she argued, would necessarily exclude the lives of two peoples—the I and the Thou. “Sovereignty at the expense of cohabitation is unjust,” she explained. Critical to Butler’s questioning of Zionism is the need to historicize and acknowledge the spectrum of Zionist and Non-Zionist identities currently at play. “Indeed I want to suggest to you that when we engage in debates about Zionism today, we have to ask ourselves, which version of Zionism is at issue among us,” she said. Debating Zionism is both an interesting and difficult charge, she explained, because many people are assured they understand the
Philosopher Judith Butler spoke to Vassar on April 9 in the Villard Room. She discussed the complexities of Zionist and anti-Zionist identities in light of the Israel-Palestine conflict. concept’s meaning and importance. However, Butler challenged this certainty, arguing that the limits and overlaps of Zionist and Non-Zionist thought are often left neglected. She posed the possibility of both favoring a radical transformation of the Jewish state and calling oneself a Zionist. Does this type of transformation exist within or outside the parameters of Zionism? Or, she suggested, perhaps even the corollary of a Zionism that once was. In expanding and obscuring the definition of Zionism, Butler questions the connotations of identifying as a non-Zionist. She challenged the tendency to associate ideas of anti-semitism with non-Zionism, arguing, “There is a difference between anti-semitism, which relies of false and demeaning images of the Jewish people, and a political opposition to the state of Israel in it’s current form.” These two projects have been conflated to a polarizing and even violent degree. Butler explained that to criticize violence and militarization in the current Israeli state must not be read as a threat of destruction to the Jewish people. Although Butler did argue that a struggle for democracy in Israel is not equivalent to anti-Semitic acts, she also stressed the incredible need to document and memorialize the Holocaust. She took profound issue with the cynicism and skepticism that often accompanies this discussion. She firmly stated, “It won’t do to simply say, oh there goes the Holocaust discourse again.” Such thinking, she argued, is a repercussion of mainstream instrumentalization of the Holocaust as a political or rhetor-
ical ploy. “Anti-semitism has to remain a very serious charge,” she noted. Butler would aruge that to crystallize an identity or belief system of individuals who identify as Zionist or others who do not identify as such is utterly impossible. What she called for in a closing that could justly be applied to all fraught political and cultural conflicts, is the need for a world in which we are open enough to hear each other: “I’m trying to argue against forms of cynicism that get in the way of any being able to be heard at all,” she said. In thinking about his experience abroad, Epstein testified to the proclivity to shut off dialogue: “[Israelis and Palestinians] treat each other as objects, either an “occupier” or “terrorist”, because there are few if any safe spaces in the city for Israelis and Palestinians to meet on an equal level and understand each other beyond these stereotypical labels.” Recalling Buber, Butler suggests the need for a living set of relations among people involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict, especially considering the irony of polarizing two groups that are hardly two, but rather multiple in their nations of origin, states of dislocation and exile. She concluded by quoting Buber once more: “For Buber it would seem a Jewish ethic has to be Jewish and non-Jewish to be ethical at all. That implies living in proximity with others under a condition of equality and difference,” she explained, adding, “The condition of reciprocal dependency is the condition of renewing and repairing the world.”
VC, community march for human rights FARM WORKERS continued from page 1
harsh, as farming is one of the most dangerous jobs available to undocumented workers. One panel member recalled a specific example of this in his own life when he injured his hand and was ordered by a doctor to rest for a week. After two days his boss called him demanding that he return to work. When the panelist refused, due to the extreme pain in his hand and with the doctor’s orders in mind, his employer promptly fired him. The bill being pushed on this tour, which Rural & Migrant Ministry has been promoting in other ways for months, would offer benefits like workman’s rights to migrant farm workers. It would also increase the minimum wage for workers under the age of 18 and allow for a day of rest for workers once a week. Many spoke of the importance of this event in the great Farm Worker Equality tour in bringing these issues to light and informing those who would otherwise be unaware of the struggles of farm workers, as well as personalizing the issue for students. As Huerta stated, “Hopefully [those who attended the event] realize that these issues are pretty close to where we are. People feel very distant from the idea of farm workers and migrant farm workers… you can go 30 minutes upstate and there are farm workers there.”
One member of the Migrant Farmer panel echoed this idea while also supporting the assertion that farm workers’ rights are human rights. He explained, “It’s about human rights. It’s about the change. It’s about a lost people. No one thinks about the people behind the food that we eat. It’s about thinking about the people who are behind all the things we use. We are real. We are real people. We are supposed to fit into the Constitution.” Another intern, Abby Nathanson ’14 agreed. She further developed the argument that Americans are out of touch with the issue of migrant farm workers’ rights. “People think the US is a place where this wouldn’t happen. People think ‘Oh this would be in Bolivia’. No one thinks of this as an actual issue here, but it is. Nothing that [the panel described] today is illegal.” Many of the panel members themselves also retold their personal journeys towards understanding the lives of migrant farm workers. Some audience members told stories of visiting farms and experiencing the brutal living and working conditions for many migrant farm workers that are, in almost every respect outside of employment and their labor rights, just like themselves. They also expressed feelings of optimism and hope in seeing so many young people at
the event. Nathanson qualified the goals of the movement and clarified this specific movement from others more generally. “What we’re trying to do is make the human rights abuses that are happening be illegal. To my knowledge, there is no legislature to enforce this bill or any special consideration for undocumented workers. They’re still going to have a lot of problems.” As the panel discussion wound down, students, other member of the Vassar, and Poughkeepsie residents, joined the members of the panel and gathered around poster boards and markers to make signs for the vigil. At 4:30 p.m. the group left New England Building and made its way north through campus headed for the arterial. The group hoped that the signs would serve to both show the world their solidarity with farm workers and inform passersby about this issue. Generally, Huerta spoke positively of the event. “The fact that we’re having a panel discussion is saying that people are willing to share their stories.” Nathanson agreed. “I think it’s really gone great. I think that means that people do care about it.” She continued, “People had questions. People didn’t get all academic about it. They were like, ‘Pragmatically what can we do to help?’”
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Former Prime Minister of Great Britain and champion of the Conservative Party Margaret Thatcher died Monday, April 8 at the age of 87. Thatcher suffered a stroke while at the Ritz Hotel. In the months preceding her death, Thatcher, who had dementia, is reported to have experienced poor health. Prime Minister David Cameron’s ofﬁce announced that Queen Elizabeth II authorized a ceremonial funeral with military honors at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Thatcher’s honor. The date and time of the ceremony has yet to be released. The service will precede a private cremation, in keeping with the Thatcher family’s wishes, (The Washington Post “Funeral arrangements for, tributes to Margaret Thatcher,” 4.8.13.) Thatcher’s death prompted a quick reaction from the British government: Prime Minister David Cameron returned to the country amidst a European tour after hearing the news. “Today is a truly sad day for our country,” Cameron said in a statement on BBC. “We’ve lost a great prime minister, a great leader, a great Briton” (Washington Post). Thatcher’s passing also solicited responses from Washington. President Obama released a statement upon hearing of her passing: “With the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend.” Speaker of the House John Boehner also offered his condolences. He observed, “[Thatcher was] the greatest peacetime prime minister in British history” (Washington Post, “Obama and others mourn Margaret Thatcher,” 4.8.13). Reactions from the English public reﬂect how divisive Thatcher proved during her time in ofﬁce. Within hours of her death, parts of Britain began impromptu street celebrations with cake and champagne. Protests proved especially vitriolic in the northern United Kingdom. In Glasgow, where the working class saw Thatcher as having damaged industry, about 300 gathered to celebrate her death. Protestors reportedly shouted, “so long, the witch is dead” (Time, “Even in Death, Margaret Thatcher Divides Britain as Hundreds Celebrate, 4.9.13). Such celebrations have prompted prominent political ﬁgures to call for respect in the wake of Thatcher’s death. “I hope that people on the left of politics respect a family in grief today,” tweeted Tom Watson, a British parliament member. Louise Mensch, a British parliament Conservative and self-proclaimed Thatcherite, responded on Twitter with distaste for the celebrations. “Pygmies of the left so predictably embarrassing yourselves, know this: not a one of your leaders will ever be globally mourned like her,” she said. —Carrie Plover, Reporter North Korea Issues Warnings Over Embassies’ Safety
On Friday April 5, North Korea warned foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it could not guarantee diplomats’ safety after April 10. The Swedish Embassy, which acts as the US protecting power and provides normal consular service to US citizens in North Korea, also conﬁrmed that North Korean government “will offer assistance for those who want to leave.” (CNN, “Embassies face decisions as tensions rise in North Korea,” 4.5.13) The Korean peninsula witnessed escalating tensions in recent weeks as the North Korean government declared the 1953 Korean War armistice nulliﬁed on March 11. (The New York Times, “North Korea Declares 1953 War Truce Nulliﬁed,” 3.11.13) Two missiles were transported to the east coast of the country, one an intercontinental ballistic missile and the other with range up to 1865 miles. They are believed to be able to reach targets in South Korea, Japan and US territory of Guam. In response to the aggressive military activity, the newly-elected South Korean president Park Guen-hye promised a “strong and immediate retaliation without any other political consideration…”(Educador Times, “South Korea would respond in the event of North Korean provocation,” 4.01.2013) With Guam as a possible target, the US has sent ballistic missiles to its Western Paciﬁc air and naval base. Pentagon ofﬁcials said that military deployments to US bases in South Korea are taking place and both armies are on standby. Despite the ofﬁcial warnings over embassies’ safety, the few foreign embassies in Pyongyang have not yet announced any plans of moving out their staffs. Denis Samsonov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Pyongyang, said that Russia has no plans to evacuate at this stage, as there were no outward signs of tension in the capital. (The Guardian “North Korea warns embassies over safety following missile threat” 4.5.13) Meanwhile, the United Nations staff will continue humanitarian and developmental work across North Korea. Security staffs of both the US and Russia believe that launching missiles, thus starting a war, will be suicidal for this seriously underdeveloped country. —Youli Zhou, Guest Reporter
April 11, 2013
VSA endorses four student life and conduct proposals Emily Hoffman Guest Reporter On Sunday April 7, the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council meeting passed four proposals regarding student life and conduct. Two of these resolutions, a proposal on updating the relationship abuse policy and another on a social awareness requirement, had previously been tabled by the Council. The relationship abuse policy resolution was first brought before VSA Council two weeks ago in its March 24 meeting. The council decided to table the proposal in order to allow council members more time to discuss it with house team members and other constituents. This Sunday, Director of Health Education and Sexual Assault Violence Prevention Project Director Renee Pabst, along with the Sexual Assualt Violence Prevention Coordinator Elizabeth Schrock came to the council meeting to discuss the history and text of the resolution, as well as answer any questions from council members. According to Schrock, the resolution was sparked by a new federal act, The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SAVE Act), which was reauthorized in February by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The act aims to increase protections to victims of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking by requiring universities to have policies that state that these crimes are prohibited on college campuses. Universities were previously only required to establish some mecha-
nism that would talk to students about these crimes. The renewed piece of legislation also requires colleges to establish a process for disciplinary action if these crimes are committed by students. This reauthorized act mandates that colleges provide support and advocate for student survivors of these crimes. Lastly, it states that universities must report statistics on these crimes in their annual security report, which has typically only included murder, robbery, arson, burglary, sexual assault, drug/alcohol offenses and hate crimes. The relationship abuse policy was originally put together two years ago by a sub-committee of the Sexual Assault Violence Prevention Committee (SAVP), co-written by the VSA, as well as the Office of Health Education, but was not passed. According to Pabst, the previous proposal stalled while in conversation with Vassar’s lawyers, as they were unsure if Vassar could properly adjudicate the policy. Now, based on the SAVE Act, this policy is being reviewed and proposed again. The new policy will likely be called the ‘Dating Violence and Domestic Violence Policy’ and will be very similar to the previously proposed Relationship Abuse policy. Pabst explains that the drafters of the proposal were sure to inlude the phrase “domestic violence” because it will help account for students and other residents in the community who are married. Lathrop House President Sophia Wallach ’15 asked how the policy would change the way
Vassar addressed these issues of relationship abuse. Pabst and Schrock explained that Vassar already provides education on these issues to students during freshmen orientation. Vassar also offers students, as of the 2011-2012 academic year, an interpersonal violence panel, which is smaller than a normal student conduct panel, consisting of three people to be used in cases of dating/domestic violence. Thanks to the passage of this resolution, students will also be told that these crimes can be adjudicated on Vassar’s campus and the handbook will clearly define these crimes. When asked by Josselyn House President Casey Hancock ’15 about the significance of the VSA’s endorsement of this policy, Pabst noted the significant role VSA has in campus culture. Pabst explained, “As student leaders, to say to students that we want this policy and that it reflects our values..sends a message to the campus.” The VSA unanimously passed this resolution. The next resolution discussed during Sunday’s council meeting, which had also been discussed on the previous Sunday, came from the Committee for Academics and was titled, ‘A Resolution Concerning Coursework in Social Awareness.’ Initially, the resolution supported an academic requirement for the integration of the study of systems of oppression and social awareness within each student’s major. The Council sent the resolution to the Committee for Academics for more development.
This Sunday, VP for Academics Amanda Zeligs ’13 presented a new resolution to the Council that backed away from the notion of a specific requirement for social awareness coursework, because the faculty are ultimately in charge of creating the curriculum. Instead the writers of the newest proposal wanted to give more agency back to the faculty and the Committee on Curricular Policies (CCP) in order to have more conversations with them, in the hopes of finding a way to integrate these ideas of social awareness into coursework across departments. Zeligs said that she spoke informally with Acting Dean of Faculty Steven Rock who approved of this new path for the resolution. This new resolution passed unanimously by the Council. Another resolution, titled ‘Resolution Concerning Class Issues,’ was presented endorsing greater support for students of lower socio-economic backgrounds, including the eventual construction of a student space. The resolution also sought to provide support and advocacy for these students. Lastly, President Jason Rubin ’13 introduced a resolution entitled “Campus Dining Staff Resolution” which stated that the VSA would endorse a day of appreciation for campus dining staff. Large cards will be placed outside of dining facilities on the day in order to allow students to sign them and show their appreciation for the dining staff on campus. This new resolution also passed unanimously by the Council.
Panel claims masculinity, inequality make U.S. more violent GUNS PANEL continued from page 1
about current issues that offer a forum for learning and respectful discourse. It is in that spirit we are so happy to sponsor a panel discussion about a very critical issue we face in the United States today: gun violence.” Professor Wallach connected Vassar with the congregation. Normally a professor at Hunter College, Wallach is teaching a seminar called “Human Rights and Democracy” at Vassar this semester and previously worked as an assistant professor here from 1984 to 1990. Wallach has also been an active member of Congregation Shir Cadash since 2000, and formerly served as chair of the Social Action Committee. Professor Harriford opened the panel discussion by placing gun violence within the larger historical context of gun ownership in the United States. She explained, “I know that one of the reasons we were able to have the revolution from Britain was because we had guns; and one of the reasons we were able to keep the Native Americans under control…was because we had guns; and one of the reasons we able to make sure that enslaved communities stayed enslaved was because we had guns. I think that guns are very much a part of American culture.” Harriford went on to connect the fundamental value of gun ownership with societal definitions of masculinity. “If they have a deep resonance in American culture,” Harriford noted, “they must have something to say about American masculinity…it seems to me that when masculinity comes into crisis, that’s when you pull the gun out to reassert your masculinity.” Harriford then compared the profound importance of firearms in America’s formative years to that of European nations. She noted that, while technological advances brought guns into the forefront of America’s revolutionary era and forever cemented them in how we remember earning our American citizenship, the foundation of other Western nations did not include guns because they had yet to be invented. Thus, Harriford explained, “We believe that to be American is to have a gun.” Harriford framed her discussion of masculinity in the context of her own research. Harriford co-authored the book When the Center is on Fire: Passionate Social Theory for Our Time, which devotes a chapter to the Columbine High School mass shooting in 1999. Using the two young white males shooters to talk about the motivations of a white shooter, Harriford explained how men in modern times feel slighted by eclipsed social privilege. “We see these two young men who are on the margins, you also see a situation where we’re noting that white males, in this society in particular, are not really able
to have the dominant position they had in the past,” Harriford explained. “They are not likely to have the jobs that they thought were going to be theirs…There will be competition with women and men of color.” Harriford continued, “So given this gun culture, we see these two young men using guns to assert a certain kind of masculinity.” The professor then discussed another kind of crisis of masculinity experienced in African-American communities. “At the same time we have young black men in Chicago standing on the corner shooting each other right and left,” Harriford noted. “So there’s another crisis there. They essentially don’t have the resources that would create a certain kind of masculinity for them in society…The way they respond is not by mass shootings, they respond by shooting each other over very personal issues.” While Harriford distinguishes the crisis in the black community as coming from a place of a historical marginalization as opposed to a newer sense of insecurity experienced by white males, the speaker noted that both forms produce deadly results. Harriford concluded, “But it seems to be that whether or not we are in the suburbs or whether they are in the cities, whether they are black males or white males, there seems to be some kind of crisis of masculinity.” Professor of Sociology Eileen Leonard used her allotted time to discuss the issue of gun violence through the perspective of criminology. Leonard’s area of expertise has been a sociological study of crime, and has even prompted her to teach a joint class for Vassar students and inmates at the Taconic Correctional Facility. Operating outside of the paradigm of mass shootings, Leonard illuminated a variety of statistics about both America’s ownership and firearms-related deaths compared with other industrialized nations, and the damage they cause Americans. Leonard cited a Harvard School of Public Health study from 2010 that stated firearms are owned by 89 of 100 hundred Americans, whereas the second highest number was 31 per 100 people in Norway and Canada. She also showed that America’s annual gun-related fatality rate is 10 people per 100,000 while Japan, the nation with the lowest number in the industrialized world, has one per two million deaths. Leonard explained, “According to the FBI, firearms account for two-thirds of all US homicides. So if you don’t own a gun, the chance that you are going to kill somebody else is really negligible.” The professor noted that the second most common murder-weapon, cutlery, is used in roughly 13% of homicides.
The speaker noted that, while both mass shootings and lower-fatality instances of gun violence are equally tragic, Americans have clung to examples of mass shootings like the one at Newtown only to obscure a larger problem of gun violence in America. “We shouldn’t let [mass shootings] erase the problem of chronic violence we have in the United States,” explained Leonard. “And often times it’s violence that we barely pay attention to.” In fact, Leonard highlighted that individual incidents of gun violence, and not mass shootings, are both more likely and more lethal. She explained that Americans are most often killed by an acquaintance or family member in altercations in the home than by a stranger. According to Leonard, a study from Emory showed “For every one act of self defense…there were seven assaults or homicides, four accidental shootings, and eleven successful or attempted suicide.” Leonard cited inequality as a driving factor in causing gun violence and in how the American people view the issue. Like Harriford, she noted that inner city youth experience higher rates of violence due to their diminished opportunities for growth; these too small windows of hope allow violence and crime to permeate the community. The sociologist also challenged the narrative that places the mentally ill as the main danger to Americans when it comes to gun violence. Leonard explained that, while many of the shooters that have been guilty of mass shootings also had mental health issues, individuals without mental illnesses commit the vast majority of gun related violence and homicides in America. Leonard also took aim at the media’s willingness to almost uniquely lament mass shootings without discussing daily gun violence. “I am convinced that if young white men in the suburbs of New York City or the suburbs of Chicago were dying from gun violence at the rate of young black men in Chicago, that we’d be declaring a state of emergency,” she observed. Leonard also noted that America remains an outlier in its gun control laws. “We’ve seen in other countries similar kinds of rampages, people going out and killing a lot of other people, but what typically happens is those countries respond quickly by imposing laws and stricter gun controls.” Leonard then cited the 1996 Port Aurthur, Australia mass shooting and the Dublane, Scotland, a school-massacre, as examples of how governments responded to gun violence. Within this context, Leonard showed American politics to be unwilling to address its exceptional status in this area. Professor Plotkin then discussed how this unwillingness has taken root in American poli-
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tics, in what he called the politics of regulation. Plotkin argued that the both the structure of the American political system, specifically the legislature, and the fanaticism of gun-enthusiast movements like the National Rifle Association (NRA) inhibit any chance of better gun control laws. “Truth is 90 percent of Americans are prepared to support universal background checks; over half of the NRA is prepared to support universal background checks,” Plotkin noted. “After all that, the chances of a new law passing are at best uncertain in the Senate, and maybe slightly north of zero in the House of Representatives.” For Plotkin, this signals a problem in the execution of the political system because the legislature, especially the House of Representatives, was created as the way to best represent the will of the people; given the polarized nature of the people and the legislature on this issue, Plotkin sees ours as a failing system. Plotkin then pointed to the NRA and similar groups as fostering this political schism. “It’s not so much the opposition to this control or that control. It’s [the NRA’s] ability to reshape the very definition of the issue in American politics, to the point where the great fear among many gun owners, who otherwise support gun controls, is that the federal government is coming to take your gun away.” The political science professor pointed to instances where members of the NRA openly dramatized the potential of federal seizure of weapons in order to gain support, as well as the NRA’s political clout with some representatives in Washington. Plotkin noted, “The NRA has come to stand not simply for the rights of gun owners, it proclaims its service as chief defender of American liberty against its main enemy, the federal government.” The professor explained that, by casting the federal government as an institution aiming to control and attack the American way and its citizens, the NRA and similar interest groups have halted what would have otherwise been popularly supported legislation. While the panelists could offer no simple solutions to the problem of gun violence, they maintained that with hard work, America could eventually become safer. Leonard explained, “If we want a good reality of safe communities, we are not going to get that with more guns in our homes, the evidence is clear. We are not going to get that with more guards in our schools…We are not going to be doing that by criminalizing the mentally ill. None of that is going to make us safer. What’s going to make us safer is [that] we move toward a more equitable society with fewer guns.”
April 11, 2013
Pre-reg changes aim to spur thoughtful academic choices Marie Solis
Pre-registration to some might best be described as something of an art form: a delicate balance between having a good draw number, ordering your class choices with the right finesse and paying close attention to how many other students sign up for them over that tenuous two-week period. For many students, pre-registering for a fifth course is a way of ensuring they have a backup should things not go as planned. However, recently the registrar has made changes to the pre-registration system which may threaten some students’ sense of security—though students can still register for five credits, the system will only process up to 4.5 credits. Should students want to add a fifth course, they can do so during the second round of pre-registration. “The 4.5 [cap] came out of discussions where we were hearing from students and advisers that some students weren’t getting a full course load, which was about 40% of the student body,” said Registrar Colleen Mallet. The committee that makes these decisions is the Committee on Curricular Policies (CCP), which is composed of both students and faculty. In order to address the problem of the large population of students who weren’t obtaining 3.5 credits, the committee first began positing a different way of doing pre-registration all together. Of these was real-time pre-registration: Students get a specific time during which they can go online and select their courses. Though the advantage is that students would find out immediately whether or not they were successfully registered, this system has its limitations. “When you’re doing a real time pre-registration, the first people in are going to get everything, the last people aren’t going to get any-
thing,” said Mallet. “We think what we’re doing here is the fairest way we can do it.” Though most agreed that a change so dramatic to the pre-registration wasn’t the right decision for anyone, the committee felt that there had to be a way to benefit a larger percentage of the student body. “As you would think, it’s freshmen who are getting the least amount of units. Because of how the program runs, they’re coming last and if you’re that last freshman with the last draw number, it doesn’t look good,” she said. For Kiran Kawolics ’15, a lot of pre-registration stresses were alleviated after she entered her sophomore year and declared her English major. “I remember being a freshman and feeling like I was at the bottom of the heap when it came to classes, especially since I was undeclared at that point. Though it makes sense that upperclassmen and majors get first priority, I remember it being difficult having to fight for a spot in even an intro level class which are supposed to be the most accessible to freshmen,” said Kawolics. Students not being able to get into classes, Mallet suggested, is a product of the previous five-credit allowance for pre-registration. “Students who register for five full units, knowing very well they don’t intend to take that fifth unit though they have taken up that space. You could be taking up that space for six weeks when there’s someone else who’s dying to get in,” said Mallet. Kawolics said she has definitely been a part of that frustration during the beginning weeks of the semester. “Coming to the first day of class there are always those few students who don’t show up for the first two or three classes when other students are waiting for their spots. Speaking from experience, it can be very stressful if you’re the student on the waitlist hoping to add the course, especially as other classes begin to
fill up during that time and options dwindle,” she said. The main intention behind the decision, Mallet said, was to encourage students to be more selective about their course schedule and to ensure they aren’t taking away opportunities for other students. “When you’re thinking about those courses you’re going to enter in your selection, we felt that students might think a little differently about their selections [with the 4.5 credit cap]—they might say, ‘Okay, these are the four core courses I want to take’ and have a little more thoughtfulness behind the course selection. There will be more equitable access for everyone,” she said. Though Sarah Mincer ’15 isn’t necessarily opposed to equitability, she said the new pre-registration modification might only create more hassle. “I don’t think that a 0.5 credit difference will make students think about their choices more, they will just have to take the extra step to take a class. Especially for the fall semester, students have the entire summer to think about their courses and decide what they are actually going to take, adding a final class during the second [pre-registration] period probably won’t make as much of a difference as administration hopes it will,” she wrote in an emailed statement. However, she does see value in another change made to the process which requires double majors to get PINs from both of their advisers. “I think it will definitely force me to talk to both of my advisors and make sure that I’m taking the right classes and making the right choices,” said Mincer, who is an anthropology and biology double major. “Last semester I never talked to one of my advisors about what classes I was taking and what classes I should be taking in the next two years, so now that I have to get two [registration] PINs I can’t get
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away with not talking to one of them,” She added that she is usually fairly independent when selecting her own courses, but she could always use a little guidance. “They can give insight into whether or not you’ll get into a class and what is going on behind the scenes when you’re freaking out about classes (which is common when trying to get into bio classes),” Mincer wrote. Mallet said part of the decision to require students to get a PIN from both advisers was due to the fact that some students don’t meet all of their major requirements in one of their majors since they didn’t see that major adviser as often. In extreme circumstances, these students may even have to drop their second major last minute. Nonetheless, the true driving force behind the change was to encourage the fostering of student-faculty relationships, something Mallet views as central to a student’s experience at Vassar. “The whole process of being here is developing relationships with faculty and relationships that will carry forward with you after you leave here. They can help you when you’re job hunting or looking for recommendations for grad school, so it’s really important to foster those relationships,” said Mallet. Though she admits this new change might not be as effective as she hopes, there is always a chance that it will. “A five-minute meeting for a PIN might not do that, but it starts a conversation. I know some are sent via email but at least there’s still correspondence and communication there,” she said. Mallet concluded, “I think these changes were not meant to be put in place to add more rigidity. We don’t want to make it harder for students, we’re just hoping it would make for a more equitable system and more thoughtful academic choices.”
April 11, 2013
VC students Alumna finds career success at ABC News capitalize on aid package Chris Gonzalez senior editor
FINANCIAL AID continued from page 1
courtesy of Jasmine Brown
dent. Rather, it is part of the Office of Financial Aid’s meticulous crafting of students’ financial aid packages. The first step in determining aid packages is figuring out the cost of attendance at Vassar, or “student budget,” in the following year. This does not only include so-called billed expenses—tuition, fees, room, and board—but also non-billed expenses, explained Director of Financial Aid Jessica Bernier. These non-billed expenses are estimated costs of necessities such as books, personal expenses like toiletries, and travel costs. The office then determines each student’s individual family contribution, consisting of parent and student contributions. The financial aid award is the cost of attendance, including both billed and non-billed expenses save the family contribution. According the Bernier, the office expects aid money and parent contribution to cover the billed expenses while student contribution—mostly in the form of work-study, to cover non-billed expenses. This is not always the case, however. “Depending on the financial aid package, some students may receive financial aid in excess of their billed expenses. In these cases, the students will have a credit balance on their student account which can be refunded to the student in order for them to use these credits to help cover their non-billed expenses,” Bernier said. Moreno, for example, used the credit towards such non-tuition expenses: “As such I bought all my textbooks, school supplies, and Vassar merchandise that I needed.” Moreno utilized the bookstore in making these purchases. Although the bookstore no longer accepts credit from student accounts, the credit could be refunded as Bernier explained. Non-billed expenses are also considered for students living in the Town Houses, Terrace Apartments, and South Commons. Their student budgets include a food allowance since they are no longer on Vassar’s meal plan. The Office of Financial Aid expects a portion of the family contribution to go towards this food allowance; therefore, a smaller portion of the contribution would go towards billed expenses. If financial aid award exceeds billed charges, excess credit could be refunded to pay for nonbilled expenses—if students are living in senior housing, food is now a non-billed expense. Students may access their accounts through Nelnet Quikpay, accessed via Ask Banner on the Vassar website. Excess credit may be in the form of a negative balance. According to the Office of Student and Employee Accounts, should this happen the student should set up a direct deposit account in order to obtain the “excess” funds. The Office of Financial Aid has compiled an informational booklet, “Understanding Your Financial Aid Package – 2013/2014,” which they have sent to all the recently admitted students in the class of 2017. It details the process in which the office determines financial aid packages, including an explanation on non-billed expenses. While it does not touch upon the issue of extra credit, the booklet may provide clarification in the form of Vassar’s financial aid policy: “Vassar meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for students and their families every year.” Because the Office of Financial Aid constructs the cost of attendance so that it includes nonbilled expenses, if a student demonstrates that it needs aid for the full cost of attendance, Vassar will provide it. It does not matter that the cost is more than that of tuition, fees, room, and board. Vassar’s Financial Aid Award may be difficult to decipher, but it ultimately serves to give students as much aid as possible, regardless if such aid goes towards billed or non-billed expenses. This is all done to help Vassar students, the majority of which are on financial aid. Bernier concurred, saying, “By including the non-billed expenses into the cost of attendance, then we are stating that the family contribution needs to be used to pay for the students educational costs. Our goal is that they would not have to pay the family contribution plus books, personal expenses and travel.”
With less than fifty days left until commencement for the Class of 2013, only a few more papers and projects, long all-nighters and some heartfelt goodbyes remain ahead as they approach the finish line of their undergraduate careers. For Alumna Jasmine Brown ‘10, crossing the finish meant taking steps to finding her place in the world of journalism. After Vassar, Brown, a native of Garfield Heights, Ohio, obtained a masters in journalism from NYU and currently works as a production assistant for ABC News’ 20/20. Of her experiences thus far, Brown wrote in an emailed statement, “Working in news is a roller coaster, most days I love it, but it can also be challenging and stressful. I have most enjoyed working on our breaking news specials. It is in these instances where our show shines, creating an hour long program in less than 12 hours. The specials make me realize that I work with some of the best people in the field.” While no journalism department currently exists at Vassar, Brown double majored in American Culture and Drama, Though she devoted a large part of time to theatrical productions and acting on campus—she most fondly remembers creating the Idlewild Theatre Ensemble with Belen Ferrer ‘10 and Estefania Fadul ‘10—news was her first passion. She wrote, “I came to Vassar fascinated by the news and the role it played in events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina... There is something powerful about the way the news is able to inform the public, especially during great times of disaster.” Drama mixed with American Culture may not seem to tie into journalism, but Brown pointed out that the two areas are not exactly in conflict with one another. “At their core, they are both about storytelling. The Drama Department taught me that there’s a multitude of ways to tell a story and the importance of finding the best one. The major also helped me be to become more fearless. After singing by yourself in front of an audience of 300+ people, you don’t really have much to be scared about when it comes to interviewing someone one-on-one and asking them a few tough questions,” she wrote. Attending graduate school after Vassar, then, became the only logical choice for Brown if she wanted to improve her chances of making it in the field of journalism.
Jasmine Brown ‘10 completed her master’s in journalism from NYU and landed a job as production assistant for ABC News’ 20/20. At Vassar she double majored in Drama and American Culture. She noted that graduate school is not necessary for everyone, but felt that she would benefit from it. “I went to NYU for a couple of reasons: the MA program was only three semesters; it was located in NYC, which is the best city for journalism in the US; and they offered me a fellowship, which brought down the cost of the program,” she wrote. The program led to internships with both ABC News and CNN. Additionally, for Brown, getting into graduate school meant being more independent; she was no longer living by the rules of campus life. She wrote, “I found graduate school to be a really nice stepping stone to living in the ‘real world.’ On campus housing was pretty costly, so I decided to rent in Brooklyn. I was forced to deal with a lot of the hard parts of living in the city- finding an apartment, dealing with
a landlord, but still had the comfort of going to class and the other students in my program provided a great support network. Though it has been almost three years since she graduated, Brown pointed out that you have the option to stay a part of the community. She said, “Ending undergrad is a scary thought, but I think seniors should know that there is an amazing support network out there. I have found Vassar alums to be fiercely loyal to one another and almost always willing to offer advice. I know so many young alums who got their start because of another Vassar alum, I am no exception. Reach out... If you have friends that recently graduated, talk to them about their experience and don’t hesitate to ask if you can crash on their couch while you look for a job and apartment. We want things to be easier for you, not harder.”
Conference joins psychology, social justice Hae Seo Kim
At 6 am on Saturday April 6, four Vassar students gathered in front of Main Circle to go to New York City. However, it was not just for a weekend outing to the city. The students were attending “Lessons in Peace,” a conference of psychologists and activists involved in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of post-Apartheid South Africa. TRC was established in 1995 and focuses on reconciliation and restorative justice, which stands in contrast to retributive justice models employed by other international criminal courts. The conference, held at New York University Kimmel Center, was co-sponsored by MAP–Mental Health Activists in Partnership, and New York University Postdoctoral program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. The trip was organized by Stephanie George’14, who learned about the event through a family friend who was one of the principal organizers of the conference. George thought it would be important to share the event with other Vassar students, so she advertised it on Grassroots Alliance for Alternative Politics (GAP) group on Facebook. Naomi Dann’14, who found out about the event through GAP Facebook group, said “I wanted to participate in the conference because I thought it is relevant to my studies. As an independent Peace and Justice Studies major, I think about issues of war, conflict, violence and injustice in society on many different levels and from many perspectives. This conference was a new way for me to look at
these issues from a psychological and personal perspective.” Over the course of the day, two leading psychologists, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, and Gill Straker, both of whom are involved with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, gave talks about the role of psychoanalysts and therapists in the process of political reconciliation and justice. Gobodo-Madikizela emphasized the psychological aspect of the restorative justice process. “The victim also needs forgiveness. It is not from moral obligation or a morally higher ground, but to come to terms with oneself, to be at peace with oneself,” she said. She went on to emphasize that at the core of forgiveness is empathy. “It is the ability to think about the perpetrator’s mother,” Pumla said, “Contextualizing the perpetrator as a son of some other woman rehumanizes the perpetrator and makes room for empathy and forgiveness.” This ability is central to the mission of restorative justice. Panelists highlighted where social justice and psychology met. This intersection is important not just for racial reconciliation in post-conflict societies, but also for a more active social justice paradigms elsewhere. “How to apply the ethics of empathy strategically to aspects of everyday life for a more active social justice and peace around the globe is what the liberals should be talking about,” Melanie Suchet, the discussion mediator, stated. Dann said, “[I] learned about a psychological perspective to think about transitional jus-
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tice, reconciliation, healing from trauma, and the ways that collective trauma can be healed, commemorated, addressed and learned from.” Krystal Cashen ‘13 said that she was pleased that the speakers at the conference attended to the role of psychology in these issues. She said, “[I was] very excited to see that there were so many mental health professionals who were interested in learning how to apply psychology to topics of social justice. It affirmed my desire to continue the work I have begun at Vassar as I develop my career as a psychologist.” According to Dann, the attitude of hopefulness and possibility for reconciliation was what stood out about the conference, and she was able to see the psychological aspects of the social justice issues that she had been interested and involved in. After the lectures by the leading psychologists, the students were able to participate in small-group discussions with mental health professionals from various backgrounds. The conference, students agreed, was an opportunity to apply their knowledge in a novel way. Dann said, “It was absolutely wonderful to get outside of Vassar and meet other people from very different places in life (older, professionals, from various backgrounds) to talk about the issues we discuss here in classes, but in a different context.” Cashen added, “Conferences such as this one allow students to expose themselves to different ideas and individuals from varied backgrounds that they may not be able to find on campus.”
April 11, 2013
Story-telling an essential skill for Vassar tour guides Eloy Bleifuss Prados reporter
Emily Lavieri-Scull/The Miscellany News
In addition to walking groups of visitors through the key spots on campus and explaining the unique features of a Vassar education, succesful student tour guides are also performers, weaving their personal stories with their knowledge of the college and coloring a visitor’s first-impressions. Each group of visistors is a new audience, ready to be taught, charmed, and welcomed to the campus. Associate Director of Admissions and Tour Guide Supervisor Paola Gentry described how she and the tour guides see themselves, saying, “We don’t sell Vassar,” Instead, she later added, “We are story tellers.” For almost three years, Danny Lempert ‘13 has served on the small, elite roster of tour guides. He leads three to five tours a week, depending on the time of the year and the ebb and flow of visitors. He said knows the tour’s path forwards and backwards—it is ingrained in his mind. While tour guides for some college and universities are volunteer positions, tour guides at Vassar are paid work-study employees. This disctinction means that although the number of tour guides—17 this Spring—has to be kept low because of the costs, the Office of Admissions can be selective in choosing who it accepts. Gentry, who has been at the Admissions Office for five years, looks for someone who is comfortable speaking in front other people, in crowds big and small, who has a positive attitude and who is active outside of the classroom with extracurriculars. This year she received eighty applications for only a handful of openings. While she considers applicants from all interest-backgrounds, Gentry admits that the program attracts a certain type. “A lot of students who come from theater
Dylan Bolduc ‘15 talks to prospective students and parents about life at Vassar. The student tour guides often use anecdotes and funny stories to spark interest while showing groups around campus. based background, people who like to perform, a cappella, music they tend to want to be tour guides,” said Gentry. Lempert is in Improv and the sketch comedy group Happily Ever Laughter (HEL). His fellow guide Siobhan Reddy-Best ’13 is Vice-President of the Philatheis Board. They both say this has helped them in their work. While they have to cover certain subjects,, guides are not given any script and are encouraged to tell stories about themselves and speak in their own voice. The most important tool a guide has is the anecdote. A good anecdote snatches a visitor’s attention of a college and lodges itself in the memory. “It doesn’t really matter if they’re not going
to remember the numbers and they’re not going to remember the name of the buildings,” said Lempert. “It’s the read you get on the tour guide and how do you see him or her as someone you could go to school with.” Some anecdotes come from the Office of Admissions, legends of the College’s history collected by generations of past admissions officers. “These swing in and out of style,” explained Gentry. No one anymore mentions the one about Jane Fonda and a motorcycle. The one visitors want to hear about, according to Gentry, is the story of the student who eloped with a stable boy or that the reason the hallways in Main are
so wide was to allow female students to do exercises in their hoopskirts. Along with these established anecdotes, tour guides have their own personal repertoire of stories from their own experiences. In a story that testifies to the accessibility of professors at Vassar, Reddy-Best, who has been a full-time tour guide since January of her sophomore year, shared how when she was once enrolled in a difficult class she met weekly with the professor for help and guidance. She said, “It’s a good story because it’s about me not doing well in a class, but getting the help that I needed.” Lempert likes to give his own spin to the story of Vassar’s first Man’s Studies Major, who created his own major from scratchas an example of the freedom students here have in pursuing what they are interested in. Each time, Lempert will tack on the same joke at the end, “…and he’s probably working at GQ or Spike TV, or wherever one goes with a Man’s Studies degree.” And guides are always looking for new material: Last Saturday, Reddy-Best was leading a tour when she and her group passed the outdoor classroom by Ely Hall. Inside the circle of rocks, imbedded into the ground were toothbrushes inspiring Reddy-Best to launch into a story of this year’s April Fool’s prank. “I got to talk about a side of Vassar that I don’t often get to talk about,” said Reddy-Best. “The silliness of the student body.” At Vassar, April first marks not only a day of college pranks, but brings with it warmer weather and a new crop of visiting students. Regular decisions came out only a couple of weeks ago, and in attendance were some prospective students eager to be at the College. At times like these, the guide and the visitors feed off each other’s energy. “They’re excited,” said Reddy-Best, “and now you’re excited.”
Mastering the art of stir-frying: 3 recipes to try at the Deece Mary Talbot
Jacob Heydorn Gorski/The Miscellany News
In my first article, I gently suggested a few simple sandwiches you might consider. I started small, so as not to scare you off. There was no mention of the resource most rife with possibilities for Deece chef-ery: the stir-fry station. But that’s all about to change. It’s time for the big one.This is for you—students who are intrepid enough to flock to Vassar from your distant (and not so distant) homelands, bold enough to tackle Judith Butler and Immanuel Kant, tough enough to master the winter elements (or at least survive them)…but still living in terror of the row of hot plates innocently lined up on the right side of the Deece. Of course, I don’t want to unjustly accuse the whole Vassar community of an irrational stirfry station fear. There are those of you who use it every day, and also those of you who simply aren’t interested in spending ten extra minutes standing in the Deece, the curry-scented steam of possibility rising around you, the surrounding voices becoming a distant roar as you and your pan merge into...the point is, some of us enjoy the stir-fry station more than others. I’ve talked to a surprisingly large number of people who’ve never even used it once, and are convinced that if they ever were to try they would make something that tasted horrible, and that in their attempt to make this horrible tasting thing they would burn down the Deece. These nightmarish possibilities will (probably) not happen! It’s true that I’ve made a lot of mediocre stir fries in my day, but they’ve improved gradually and lately have become downright delicious. Also, maybe you find the act of stir-frying strangely therapeutic and fun, which makes it okay if the product is only soso. In terms of a potential inferno, if you keep an eye on the pan it is almost impossible to burn your food. Here are the basics: there are spices on the rack next to the pans, ingredients in the containers to the left, and eggs in the fridge behind the station. Don’t forget about the eggs just because they’re out of sight…they turn everything into delicious, filling comfort food. And remember my Deece mantra: if you don’t see something, ask for it. Dirty pans and spoons go
under the little awning on the counter and will be washed for you (thanks, Deece employees!). The actual stir fry process is incredibly simple: add just enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan, let it get hot (but not smoking), and add your ingredients according to how long they need to cook. The last step seems obvious, but I think a lot of bad stir-fry creations can be explained by the ol’ nervously-throwing-everything-in-at-the-same-time-and-hoping-it-cooks strategy. If you do this, some things will be mushy, and some things will be undercooked. Yuck. Ingredients like mushrooms (tip: cook them until all the liquid they’ve released has evaporated), eggplant, and peppers should go in first. Rice, eggs, spinach—last. The key to a good stir fry is practice—the elements are all there, and taming your fear is the first and most important step in the right direction. Stir Fry “Recipes”:
(I use quotes because these are really just ideas to get you started;they are open to infinite variation and experimentation! Look out for breakfast Stir Fry recipes in my next article!) Asian Fried Rice
Certainly not renowned for its authenticity—I’m not sure if any traditional cuisine uses both soy sauce and curry powder in one dish— but I tend to throw in whatever I feel like! Taste as you go to for the best spicing results. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan. Once hot, add garlic, onions, and fresh ginger if they have it. As garlic begins to brown, add mushrooms, peppers, and eggplant. Turn down the heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the veggies are tender. Meanwhile, beat two eggs in a bowl with a little milk, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Now add any quick-cook veggies you have— spinach, corn, peas, snow peas, etc. Once everything is heated through, pour in the beaten egg and cook, stirring constantly. If you want distinct scrambled egg pieces, as opposed to an egg coating, then push the veggies to one side and cook the egg separately in the pan. Lastly add rice—it will get mushy quickly, you want it just heated through—and spic-
Some students fear trying their hand at the All Campus Dining Center’s stir-fry station. With a few simple tricks to keep in mind, you no longer have to be intimidated when it comes to cooking a meal. es: curry powder, ginger powder, hot pepper flakes, and soy sauce. The soy sauce comes out incredibly quickly and I almost always use too much—pour with caution! Simple Garlicky Spaghetti
One of my comfort foods at home—I like to keep additions very minimal, but feel free to bulk up on veggies. Don’t skimp on the garlic (you’re going to smell like it all day no matter how little you use!). Add enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan. Once hot, add a spoonful or so of garlic, It might seem like too much, but garlic is usually only too strong if isn’t cooked through. Make sure your garlic is turning golden brown before you add anything else. Add a bunch of green peas (or roasted brussel sprouts if available!), heat through, and add spaghetti. As the noodles warm up, add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Top with parmesan.
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Julia Child’s Mushrooms
The stir-fry station is also great for sides— like these mushrooms sautéed in butter. This recipe is taken almost directly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Bon appétit! Add three pats of butter and a dollop of oil to your pan and heat until the butter is melted but has not yet begun to brown. Add a small handful amount of mushrooms and cook, stirring, for four to five minutes until mushrooms are tender and have begun to brown. “During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In two to three minutes the fat will reappear on their surface and the mushrooms will begin to brown.” For this recipe it is especially important to cook your mushrooms for long enough, otherwise they will simply taste greasy. Add salt and pepper to taste. “As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.” Lastly, for double the food and double the success, stir-fry with a friend!
April 11, 2013
Students adapt dietary needs to campus dining options
Emily Lavaieri-Scull/The Miscellany News
The All Campus Dining Center offers special options for students who need or elect to follow specific dietary restrictions—halal, kosher, vegan. Some students make exceptions while living on campus. Adam Buchsbaum ContriButinG editor
Campus dining can be tough—this isn’t home. The foods aren’t always to our taste. We wanted chicken, but the All Campus Dining Center (ACDC) offered only pasta. However, for students with religious dietary restrictions like keeping halal and keeping kosher, it is even harder to abide by dietary needs. Farah Aziz ’16 didn’t expect Vassar’s campus dining to have any halal options and appreciates that it even has any. “I think it’s very considerate. But at the same time, I know the halal meat isn’t the freshest,” Aziz wrote in an emailed stament. She went on to acknowledge, “Many students don’t strictly stick to eating halal meat on campus and it may not be worth special ordering meat that only a handful of students eat on a regular basis.”
In turn, Aziz has found herself keeping a fairly vegetarian diet, since the ACDC provides for vegetarian meals—and vegetarian food is often halal food. “I like having all the vegetarian options. At Vassar, meat itself is not offered as much as it is offered on other campuses, let alone special meat such as halal or kosher,” Director of Campus Dining Maureen King noted that part of Vassar’s devotion to wider vegan and vegetarian options is a result of a broader change in diets over time. She wrote in an emailed statement, “Many years ago PETA asked colleges to answer questions to determine how ‘Vegetarian Friendly’ they were. Two or three years back, they changed the criteria to focus on vegan menu options. With today’s life styles, it’s easy to accomodate a vegetarian diet, [and] veganism became the new standard by which we were measured.” Though Aziz is
satisfied with her vegetarian diet, she admitted halal options would be preferable. “All in all, I’ll keep wishfully hoping for better halal meat offerings, but I have no complaints because the vegetarian options make keeping halal very simple.” Echoing Aziz, President of the Vassar Islamic Society Mariam Khan ‘14 noted that her diet is, effectively, vegetarian as well. “ACDC sometimes offers halal options although to be honest I haven’t checked since my freshman year. My freshman year, [the] Vassar Islamic Society met with [the] Director of ACDC and exchanged several emails regarding halal options,” Khan wrote in an emailed statement. King said she encourages students to follow suit with Khan’s initiative. “I personally meet with dozens of students each year and I or one of our managers conduct tours of the dining facilities all the time,introducing students to memebers of the staff and allowing them to gain a familiarity with the locations,” she wrote. Of these, is the Peace of Mind Zone in the ACDC. However, Khan said it still falls short of her expectations. “I felt like our needs were still not dealt with since they only put out halal chicken sometimes in the peace of mind zone. I wasn’t satisfied with it so I stopped checking. Ever since then, I just eat from the vegetarian options.” Additionally, Khan patronizes nearby restaurants like Kismat and Zorona’s—before the fire shut it down—for local halal meat. On occasion she also bring halal meat back to campus from her home in New York City. Co-President of the Vassar Jewish Union Evelyn Berger ’13 seeks to bring her dietary-specific foods back to campus as well, though she is similarly flexible on her dietary needs. When Berger was reliant upon the ACDC, she ate non-kosher meat because only it was available. “For people who more strictly keep kosher, the only real option is to eat vegetarian on campus. Even if they do that, they will be eating off of dishes that have come in contact [with] meat which is problematic,” Berger explained. “The dining services at Vassar do not
have a kosher kitchen, nor do they have separate dishes and utensils for students keeping kosher…as such, there is only so much that one can do.” The Bayit, Berger noted, offers one way to keep kosher outside of campus dining. The Bayit, which is run out of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, serves kosher vegetarian dinners on Friday nights and houses a kosher kitchen for student use. “There is not that much that ACDC can do about it, unfortunately. In the past few years, I believe that ACDC started offering kosher deli meat, which is definitely an improvement,” Berger wrote. Berger now lives in the Terrace Apartments and cooks her own meals. However, she has still found it somewhat difficult to find kosher meat in Poughkeepsie’s supermarkets. Berger discovered that the nearby Price Chopper offers a limited supply of kosher meats on Thursday afternoons, but this still poses a challenge. “I don’t have a car at Vassar, so I rely on my friends for food shopping, making it more difficult to get there at a specific time,” Berger wrote. “I have also had classes on Thursday afternoons both semesters, so I would definitely have to go out of my way to keep kosher while shopping in Poughkeepsie.” Fardeen Chowdhury ’13, as another Terrace Apartment resident, who buys halal meet in bulk and brings it to campus, has found a way to please everyone. “Usually I’ll buy 30-40 pounds of meat and bring it up to campus and freeze it and use it throughout the semester. The meat is always fresh and my housemates are super cooperative and amazing when it comes to my dietary needs,” Chowdhury wrote in an emailed statement. However, for students who don’t want to wait until senior year to find culinary success, King concluded, “I think the most important thing is communication. We can’t satisfy someone’s dietary wishes if we don’t know what they are. Whether it is for religous, ethical, or health reasons, students should feel free to contact Campus Dining.”
Astronomy Department gives individual attention to majors Aja Saalfeld
Jonah Bleckner/The Miscellany News
Some of the many things on which Vassar College prides itself are the small class sizes and individual attention it affords to students as a small liberal arts college. The Astronomy Department, with its two permanent professors and handful of majors in its senior class, stands out as one of the smallest and most hands-on departments. The particular smallness of the classes enable students to form close relationships with faculty that might not be possible in other departments. “Coming to Vassar, what I wanted was to be able to get close to the professors, and even though we only have two professors, all of our professors are incredible,” said Nico Mongillo ’14. Gagandeep Anand ’15 said this advantage is especially beneficial when it comes to upper-level courses. “The small class sizes lend really well to a lecture environment since that makes it easier to stop and ask questions,” said Anand. That students also have access to talented professors that, according to Simon Patane ’15, more than makes up for Astronomy’s relatively small size. “It is probably one of Vassar’s smallest departments, but the two faculty who are in it now, Professor Debra Elmegreen and Professor Frederick Chromey, are both top notch and very well respected in their own fields, and that makes up for it,” said Patane. Indeed, Professor Debra Elmegreen said, the Astronomy Department at Vassar is on par with other, larger programs at various other colleges. The selection of astronomy and physics at Vassar is not is not particularly different from what one would see in a larger department, so it more than adequately prepares students for further astronomical studies, she said. However, being a part of a small department has its drawbacks. Students involved with larger astronomy programs have greater opportunities for more professional research as well as more access to equipment.
“Recognizing that we can’t offer students lots of different research like [other colleges] would, we can guide them through independent studies,” said Elmegreen. She went on to explain that, to remedy the lack of professional research opportunities, twentyyears ago Vassar banded together with seven other colleges, Colgate, Haverford, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Wellesley, Wesleyan and Williams to form the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium. This consortium funds various projects and offers students the opportunity to apply to work over the summer at other schools within the consortium to have more diversity in their studies. Students involved with the department also have opportunities to work with students from other programs, even if they do not go themselves, such as Anand, who will spend the summer working with students from another astronomy program. “The most important thing is not just to learn from the classroom, because that’s a very different thing than doing [hands-on research],” said Elmegreen. “[It is] personally most satisfying when they can do it for themselves.” To graduate, astronomy majors must take five astronomy courses along with several physics courses.Elmegreen said this was because, at the undergraduate level, it is not necessary or ideal to take a large amount of astronomy courses, saying that some of the higher level ideas are better taught at graduate school. Physics forms a large basis of astronomy, particularly at the graduate level, and Elmegreen stressed the importance of student’s having a strong background in the material. “[Students] need to know electromagnetism and mechanics to understand [astronomical] motions,” said Elmegreen. “We don’t require all the courses that a physics major takes, but the students that want to go on and become astronomy graduate students are effectively astronomy/physics double majors.” Thus, the Physics and Astronomy Departments are closely together to ensure that students have ample opportunities to take classes. Because the Astronomy Department is so
Spring is in bloom at Vassar, despite hurricane force winds which struck campus on Tuesday. Spring is in bloom at Vassar, despite hurricane force winds which struckUnt vullumsan ex ex ero del dolutsmall, and the Physics Department is not much larger, professors have the ability to work together to plan courses around their students. The flexibility of the Astronomy and Physics Departments is one of the things that helps to set it apart from other, larger departments and one thing that students find particularly beneficial. Elmegreen explained that because there are so few professors, they have the ability to work their schedules around those of their students. “I’ve actually had classes scheduled around me,” said Mongillo. Elmegreen said, “We don’t have an issue with overlapping courses. If a Quantum course meets when my Interstellar Medium course meets, then we will change. They’re not offered the same time if we know a major needs to be in two classes.” However, working with other departments can be difficult. “We just
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can’t coordinate with all the possibilities,” said Elmegreen. “Sometimes there can be a conflict outside the department.” Another problem the department can face is more from the perspective of the Dean’s office, which has rules about the minimum sizes classes need to be. When only a few students registered for one of Elmegreen’s courses, she said she thought there was a possibility she would have to cancel it, but a student needed it for his major. While enough students ultimately joined the course and it was offered, there was never any any concern that he would be unable to finish his degree; the department offers options in independent study, regardless of the fact that professors do not get credit for teaching independent study. In any case, the department consistently advocates for its students so they can get the best astronomy education Vassar can provide.
April 11, 2013
THE MISCELLANY NEWS STAFF EDITORIAL
VC must be open to divergence of political opinions On April 4, The National Review published an opinion by Stanley Kurtz titled ‘What’s the Matter with Vassar,’ in which the author denounced the campus community for silencing conservative voices. In particular, he suggested that the Vassar College Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign’s March 29 walkout of a lecture by fossil fuel advocate Alex Epstein is emblematic of Vassar’s participation in a national trend of extreme anti-conservativism in higher education. Soon after publication, Kurtz’ column appeared on Vassar’s social media networks and quickly spread across campus. Although we at The Miscellany News feel that Kurtz’ column is a 2,000-word hyperbole, we agree with his sentiment that the Vassar community can and should do more to encourage better, more respectful discourse from all sides of the political spectrum. In the column’s introduction, Kurtz wrote that “a climate of political intimidation was present at Vassar well before the advent of the divestment movement.” But just one sentence later, he seemingly contradicts himself
when he references an opinion piece published by The Miscellany News, which openly criticizes the one-dimensional culture of our Political Science department. The very fact that such an opinion—as well as many others in the Miscellany and other student publications—was printed, read and discussed, flatly contradicts Kurtz’ assertion that “the divestment campaign [stokes] a climate of fear that touches not only conservative students, but even moderates, who dare not draw the ire of this new campus crusade.” Kurtz also makes incredible leaps in logic, associating the actions and views of many with the actions and views of few. For instance, after referencing a private conversation between Will Serio ’13 and Julian Hassan ’14 in which Serio allegedly suggested that Epstein be paid not to come to campus, Kurtz claimed that this “signifies the near-collapse of the ethos of classic liberal education,” thereby anointing one anecdotal sound bite symptomatic of college-wide trends. Throughout his column, Kurtz suggests that true debate cannot be held outside of the lib-
eral/conservative dichotomy. This is a gross oversimplification. Debate flourishes at Vassar and other college campuses on topics that transcend the political binary, simply because not all debates are political in nature; Kurtz’s assuming such evinces a lack of understanding of the epistemological processes that are afoot within the liberal arts framework, one that he critiques but clearly does not comprehend. But hyperbole aside, we agree that Vassar’s tendency toward divergent views, particularly conservative opinions, must be improved. Without making judgments about any political ideologies—be they right, left or center—we encourage the Vassar community to remain open to thorough discourse and seek, not shun, divergent opinions. First, we must respect those with whom we disagree. We must allow everyone to come to the table as equals and engage in level-headed discourse. When students attend lectures in masks, or express hostility towards speakers as they did last month and last fall when Gloria Steinem came to Vassar, they detract from
everyone’s experience, inciting fights instead of encouraging debates. Next, we must not shut out opposition. By isolating ourselves from challengers, as the Divestment Campaign members did when they walked out of Epstein’s lecture and began their own ‘talk-out’ in Josselyn House, we weaken our own positions and detract from our own intellectual growth. Deliberately marginalizing other students’ views does not send the message that their opinion is not worth hearing; instead, it sends the message that we are not willing to embrace the productive discourse engendered by informed dissent. We must use the opportunities afforded to us as students of Vassar College to explore and grow—not to create bubbles around ourselves in which everyone is in agreement. By shutting the door on thorough discourse, we leave everyone out in the cold. –The Staff Editorial represents the opinion of at least 2/3 of the Editorial Board of The Miscellany News.
Ebert’s work inspires love Walk-out supporters disrupt of cinema, critical thought VC’s learning environment Adam Buchsbaum ContriButinG editor
They say everyone’s a critic. Roger Ebert was a great one. As a child fascinated with movie magic, I recall seeing him and Richard Roeper on At the Movies with their trademark thumbs up and thumbs down. Truthfully, I found them a tad boring; two old guys sat in chairs and said things. At least the movie clips were cool, though, since movies were cool. Then, in early high school, I came down with a nasty case of cinephilia. Movies were not just movies now: they were films. I cultivated a healthy dose of snobbery, admittedly. But I was enamored. Who isn’t silly when first in love? Film criticism offered me a path to understanding films—a roadmap to feeling each emotional bump and intellectual subtlety. Perhaps my friends hadn’t seen that French arthouse film—say, Roman de Gare—but A.O. Scott had seen it, thought upon it and synthesized his reactions into an entertaining, insightful nugget. There was and is an art to film criticism. It is an invisible art, much like a well-calculated Hollywood film. In such a film, the visual and aural, the narrative and the acting, flow together into a seamless stream. You are transported. You are taken away. You don’t always know how, but so it goes. Films fill the gap between hearing a joke and laughing at it. Good movie criticism merely tries to reveal these unobserved crevices. This doesn’t mean it must be sober and dry. It is simple fun its own right. Movie criticism is part of the sheer joy of watching movies. We all act the part of the movie critic and offer our best shot. If going to the movies is like going to a place of worship, movie criticism is like the essential commentaries. You can’t just go to such a sacred place without the appropriate signposts and explanations. Someone must explain the holy water or prayer mats—the rituals and the artifacts. That someone may be the minister, or your friend, or your father. Now, movies aren’t entirely like church: we go to the movies not only for spiritual fulfillment, but for corporeal desires: repulsion and lust, to name two. And I certainly don’t head to the television for movie trailers anymore, with YouTube but a screen away. I doubt you do as well. An era has passed. I recall flipping through old DVDs and VHS tapes the other day, and noticing Ebert’s “Two Thumbs Up!” emblazoned proudly on many a worn-out sleeve. These sleeves have been weathered and frayed by time. The individual critic is less noticeable now amid the aggregate scores of RottenTomatoes and Metacritic. The words fade into ratings av-
eraged together. When the critic Armond White failed to toe the critical line for The Social Network (2010) and disturbed an otherwise “perfect” RottenTomatoes rating— he knocked it down from 100 percent to 97 percent—people lambasted him. Despite his individual opinion, what mattered more was that he marred the rating. The rating took precedence over the words, no matter whether White was merely a contrarian or the only honest critic. I do not lament RottenTomatoes for averaging ratings together; I admit to using them as quick barometers for my interest. I do not lament the increasing availability of reviews from alternative media outlets, or just plain individuals. I think it is wonderful that everyone can be a critic. But it is so easy to stop at the score. To distill reviews down to a score naturally omits something. This is nothing new. Sound bites and ratings are commonplace. But with Ebert’s passing, I simply ask for a moment to pause: I would like us to re-appreciate what reviews can do—the review as art piece.
“Movie criticism is part of the sheer joy of watching movies.” ADAM BUChsBAUM ’14
The review is the fundamental way we express our love and hate for the movies. The trademark thumbs up and thumbs down is disarmingly effective. If we don’t consult the AVClub, we still may consult ourselves, or our friends. We are all critics. The movie critic still matters and criticism still matters. Ebert mattered, and matters. Tributes abound with each notable death, and his is no exception. Already, top ten lists are breaking down his corpus into fun, digestible quotes as they rightly should. So this one’s to the moviegoers, the movie critics and the movie lovers. Ebert brought a sensitivity and refreshing lack of pretension to his reviews. His final blog post ends with a wonderful turn of phrase: “I’ll see you at the movies.” We’ll all be there, filling the pews and gazing at the silver screen and our laptops alike. —Adam Buchsbaum ‘14 is a Film major.
n Katharine Gripp’s op-ed “Epstein audience offered skewed info on fossil fuels” (Miscellany News, 04.04.2013) she writes, “others have written more knowledgeably of—and can more lucidly explain—Epstein’s lack of qualifications as an ‘energy researcher.’” Nonetheless, I would like to respond to her piece, because it contains an error that knowledge and lucidity in others can conceal: ad hominem arguments. Alex Epstein’s “pretty, made-up, high-heeled assistant” is Brittney, my classmate during a demanding summer conference at Clemson University. MICA had to fly her in at the last minute because all of our members, including myself, felt too intimidated to host the lecture. Brittney is an undergraduate in philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, a non-traditional student, a highly successful activist, and a hard-worker for two think tanks. She missed a day of classes and volunteered her time for the benefit of Gripp and all of us. No mention is made in Gripp’s op-ed about Divest VC’s use of Dick Cheney masks at the event, which they later photographed and called “Dick Pics.” Could it be that Epstein was bored of their childishness and that he was more interested in the matter at hand? According to a National Review piece called “What’s the Matter with Vassar?” by Stanley Kurtz (which made it on the Wall Street Journal’s “Best of the Web,” got over 1,000 Facebook likes and was one of the site’s most commented articles): “The real takeaway from the [Alex Epstein] video is that, agree or disagree, the dreaded Epstein laid out a perfectly reasonable case for the importance of fossil fuels and the dangers of putting the industry that produces them out of business without an economically viable substitute. The notion that a talk like this is out of place at an institution of higher education is pernicious. If anything, students desperately need to hear Epstein’s side of the story.” Thankfully, many came to support the Vassar Loves Fossil Fuels campaign. One father and son came over two hours from New Jersey. The son goes to a community college; he loves learning about energy, but sadly thousands of people may now think Vassar is against this. VLFF, on the other hand, is driven by a love of learning. Another group that came to back VLFF included the NY Heroes Society, led by Robert Begley. On Gripp’s topic of world hunger, Begley wrote for CIP: “Epstein gave an example of Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book, The Population Bomb, where he claimed that the entire world was on verge of starvation. With today’s 7 billion people...the issue of world hunger has been substantially solved, mainly due to the energy revolution...In other words, the oil industry solved world hunger! That was the first
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time I ever heard that explanation, especially on a college campus.” If you want to understand the debate, watch Epstein’s full lecture on YouTube and read Kurtz’ two articles on Vassar, now a cautionary tale about the fanaticism of the divestment movement. Kurtz has also posted a video of an info session at Tufts University hijacked by divestment activists. A father yelled at them to great applause. Almost the same day as this incident, Vassar’s campaign also flouted the rights of an audience, including MICA members. In Gripp’s lingo, I had to occupy one of the least worthy positions in the room so I could attend without confrontation: the back. That being said, Ayn Rand-studied celebrators of industry and capitalism should disdain NRO’s defeatism. Forbes columnist Wendy Milling praised our event as “important and highly commendable” but disapproved of Kurtz’ tone, writing to me in an email, “Notice how his story paints conditions on college campuses as literally impossible. And why fight the impossible? Things are just terrible, out of control, college campuses are hopeless. Doom.” Milling is right. It is important to remember that Vassar has hope. As American Enterprise Institute anti-divestment scholar Dr. Mark Perry wrote to us, “Thanks for your courage and efforts on an important issue, you’re making a difference.” Stories like ours will influence the debate as long as divestment is an issue. Stay strong. Much is possible (R.I.P. Margaret Thatcher). And what did I learn from Alex Epstein?
“Ayn Rand-studied celebrators of industry and capitalism should disdain NRO’s defeatism.” JUliAn hAssAn ’14
As Jane Fonda said: “We have to listen to each other even when we don’t agree, even when we think we hate each other. We have to listen to each other’s narratives, not interrupt defensively or with hostility, but...open our hearts and listen with empathy.” As we see the public photo of Divest VC stealing Epstein’s poster and posing with it, fists raised, they should listen. —Julian Hassan ‘14 is a Cognitive Science major.
April 11, 2013
GOP policy contradicts spirit of party’s rebranding effort Angela Della Croce Columnist
Forget the image of balding, white men in suits who shudder at the word “change”—the Republican Party is looking for a makeover. According to the Republican National Committee, the GOP wants their acronym to take on a new meaning: the Growth and Opportunity Party. After their defeat in the 2012 presidential election, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus decided that his party was in need of improvement. The Growth and Opportunity Project attempted to pinpoint where and how the Republican Party could grow and gain more standing in national elections. The hundred-page report essentially called for the Party to become more inclusive, more sensitive to issues that may not directly affect them, and more accepting of other perspectives. It admitted that it was time to “smartly change course, modernize the Party, and learn once again how to appeal to a greater variety of people, including those who share some, but not all, of our conservative principles.” Either the media really has it in for the Republicans, or rebranding the Party has been a flop thus far. While the overall direction of this country is slowly inching toward progress, it seems that the GOP has continued to stay behind. For instance, on April 2, The Associated Press (AP) announced that it will no longer use the term ‘illegal immigrant’. As the largest news source in the world, AP is working to get rid of labels, stating that the use of the word ‘illegal’ to describe a human being should not be sanctioned
and promotes a negative connotation to those it usually affects—the Latino community. The RNC autopsy concurred: “On issues like immigration, the RNC needs to carefully craft a tone that takes into consideration the unique perspective of the Hispanic community.” But, while it seems like the nation is headed towards a more sympathetic and progressive view on immigration, veteran congressman Don Young (R-AK) casually referred to migrant workers as ‘wetbacks’—a term far more offensive and outdated than ‘illegal immigrant’—when describing technology’s impact on the national job market.
“While the overall direction of this country is slowly inching toward progress, it seems that the GOP has continued to stay behind.” Angela Della Croce ’15 In addition, the RNC’s overarching recommendation was to be more accepting, even towards those that may not fully agree on every conservative viewpoint. Yet, on April 4, two Republican representatives from North Carolina
have submitted a resolution that would allow the state to establish an official religion. This, of course, would lead to the political exclusion of those who choose not to abide by the specific religious belief, and directly violates the First Amendment. One would think that contesting the Bill of Rights and its application to states was a thing of the past—apparently not, as far as the representatives of Rowan County, N.C. are concerned. We then see that the RNC autopsy urges Republicans to “develop a more aggressive response to Democrat rhetoric regarding a socalled ‘war on women’” in order to garner more female support. Perhaps some states didn’t get the memo. North Dakota’s legislature passed the country’s harshest anti-abortion bill yet on March 22. If passed by voters the bill would amend the state constitution to ban abortion in the state—period. There would be no exception for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. And while a federal judge recently ruled that Plan B will be sold over-the-counter and without age restrictions, the North Dakota bill could make some forms of birth control, stem cell research, and in vitro fertilization illegal. The Kansas legislature passed a similar measure on April 5, which would declare life at fertilization and block any tax breaks provided for abortion providers. Thus, the very real ‘war on women’ persists. The RNC report commended the party in fostering “respect” and stated, “We need to ensure that the tone of our message is always reflective of these core principles.” Yet I’m not really sure if ‘respect’ would accurately de-
In harsh job market, grads must consult their passions Harrison Remler Guest Columnist
I was enjoying breakfast with a classmate in the Retreat a few days ago. He was telling me the story of how his mother, a Vassar graduate, got her job as a publisher. “Five days before graduation she walked into the CDO with her soon-to-be degree in cognitive science,” he told me. “She walked out thirty minutes later with a job at a publishing company and has worked there ever since.” The story seemed too simple, too crisp, too easy. Even how the words trickled off in a story format made it somewhat sweet. I could taste and feel the satisfaction and gratification of four years spent in endless classes and lectures, all made worthwhile decades later with a secure job. The process seemed so effortless; be a good kid, attend a great school, walk out with a job. Life was good in 1983. As a liberal arts student I’ve learned to accept, recognize, overzealously cite in papers, and somewhat fathom the growing economic inequality in America. Political science classes have taught me that Horatio Alger is beyond dead, buried deep within American history. For close to three years I have learned to recognize and evaluate types, cases and the growth of economic inequality. Instead of watching college basketball this March I have been a witness to the constant battle between the American rich and those gasping for air while trying to make ends meet. All the horror stories about the one percent growing richer seem to become a closer reality every day. If it happened today, the story would be too simple and easy; walk into the CDO and 30 minutes later have multiple job offers on the table. Economic and cultural times have obviously changed in the U.S. over the last 30 years. I’ve learned as I witness graduating seniors and close friends begin their job searches that maybe we’re overlooking true accomplishments. A few weekends ago I returned home for a hybrid “Passover-Easter” all-in-one. I had too many baseball commitments to make the weekday family seder, but was fortunate enough to crash my neighbor’s Easter lunch. It’s an annual tradition that our neighbors and my family take part in—an understanding of each other’s customs and religions. My dad tossed me the Sunday Edition of the New York Times and told me to seek out Thomas Friedman’s piece “Need a Job? Invent It.” (New York Times, 3.30.2013) Friedman writes that, these days, “What you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know.” Like the story of a peer’s Vassar mother decades ago, “My generation had it
easy. We got to ‘find’ a job,” writes Friedman. That job finding process, the journey we take day in and day out to making that next step, is what I’ve realized to be our most valuable gift from our social and economic circumstances. It’s a common divide for Vassar students and those in the liberal arts world alike. Following our passions in the arts, music and environmental causes may not give us the most enticing, opportunistic, or financially appealing jobs, but are the endless hours behind a desk job—the one that makes you cringe every time an email pops up on your computer—worth sacrificing for what you love? I had it all backwards: go to college, be a good kid, get great grades and you’ll have a nice job and make good money. It’s not about the end result though, and unfortunately only through adjusting to the economic moment of our culture am I realizing that it’s actually about following your passions and sacrificing the rest. That’s the most powerful pay day or job offer. The moment you know you’ve given it all to what has promised to give it back to you. It’s time to face economic inequality with reckless ambition and abandon. We face a clear cultural divide. Corporate CEOs are at the top looking down with an aerial view of American poverty and the growing mountain of jobless college graduates. By their definition they are winning consistently, eating good, living well. As society changes and the job culture of our country does as well, maybe we should reconsider what victory, accomplishments and the idea of a “win” really mean. Let’s flip it. Hold the ball in our hands; control the game. As a pitcher I’ve loved how baseball is the only sport where the defense controls the pace of the game. I decide when I step one foot off the pitching rubber and deliver the pitch. I decide when I take a step down the mound and spit a few sunflower seeds passionately into the brown dirt. I decide when I let the ball soar inside the hitter’s favorite spot and get smacked around the diamond. While sometimes I get lost in the moment, the game is mine, even for those few pitches, which appear as mere seconds in my memory. As students and young Americans, we’re constantly lost in the moment. The job search and these economic times have arguably consumed our precious moments. But it’s now time to hold the power in defense of being able to control our own destiny. We can’t fear these troubling times in the American job market; we need to let our passions redefine it. —Harrison Remler ‘14 is a Political Science major.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
scribe the relaxation of gun laws that several red states have adopted, given the plethora of devastating and horrific recent spate of gun violence. For example, Mississippi is expanding the rights and privacy of those who carry concealed weapons, and South Dakota has permitted school employees and security personnel to carry firearms on school property. These measures are being passed while the White House and several other states have pursued stricter forms of gun control. With all this said, these are select instances and many of them are not the norm: Rep. Young has been ridiculed thoroughly by members of his own party; the likelihood of North Carolina establishing a state religion is slim to none; the harsh abortion bills have provoked a great deal of intrastate resistance; the fight to protect gun rights is a bit more well-founded, given this country’s infatuation with the Second Amendment. Maybe the instances described above are outliers and much of the Republican Party is working in good faith to abide by the recommendations of the Growth and Opportunity Project. Even if this were the case, though, it only takes a few rotten apples to spoil the barrel. As Republicans have seen in the past, it only took one person to coin the term “legitimate rape” to reignite an entire war on women. What the Republican Party needs is consistency in its beliefs, behaviors, and goals. Then perhaps this stagnant group can work towards true progress. —Angela Della Croce ‘15 is an Economics major.
April 11, 2013
Development of new science center comes at cost of current student needs Matt Elisofon
Let me start off by saying that I am a petty person. I’m small-minded, easily agitated and always spiteful. I’m overeducated, overwhelmed, and underemployed. In my life I’ve struggled with health issues, family issues and a fair share of vices. Recently I’ve been grappling with graduating in seven semesters, too few employment prospects and too (2) many theses. In short, I’ve got a lot to deal with, but today I just want to focus on our dearly demolished Terrace Apartments bridge. Roughly a year ago, the old rickety wooden bridge straight out of an Indiana Jones movie that connects campus proper to the TAs and Walker Field House was sectioned off and condemned as being unsafe for use. Months went by, seasons changed, but the bridge remained the same, blocked off on both ends. TA residents, visitors, athletes, and gym rats were forced to either walk out of the way to an industrial steel bridge, or, for the more impatient and adventurous, to tightrope it across a large pipe running across the tiny creek that separates the two parts of campus. At the end of the last spring semester, the bridge was still boarded up but my friends and I were optimistic. Surely it would all be sorted out when we returned for the fall of our senior year. This was not the case. When I returned this past fall, no progress on the bridge had been made, but I was surprised to learn that Vassar had just broken ground on a multi-million dollar two year project that would bring a new, state-of-the-art science building to Vassar College. After doing a limited amount of research, I discovered that this new building, still a pile of turned up earth to the untrained eye, had received a name: The Bridge. Ouch. The fact that Vassar would spend several
years and millions of dollars on bringing cutting edge resources to future students without so much as touching a broken bridge that’s been an inconvenience for current students every day for over a year is preposterous. For this new “Bridge to Discovery” only a few hundred yards from the TA gangplank, now torn down and replaced by lovely bright orange cones and mesh fencing, they’ve brought in a construction crew and expensive equipment and materials without even as much a trip to Home Depot for our poor old TA Bridge. Don’t get me wrong, this building will provide amazing opportunities for students pursuing an education in the sciences — if they happen to be sophomores or younger, as this modern marvel won’t be ready until 2015. While the first class of students to fully benefit from this building for four years are still stressing about things such as the SATs or Prom Night (after all, it’s only a year away,) current residents on the fifth floor of Raymond live in a psych ward, bathrooms in Main and Cushing are crumbling, and Lathrop students often find themselves bunking with bed bugs. Even when underclassman finally escape to the TH’s, they’ll soon find that the stove-tops are crooked and the living room lighting is poor (black light parties are actually an improvement,) making once easy tasks like eating or reading more difficult then they have to be. But, at least in terms of the bridge, last week help was reportedly finally on the way! According to an email sent before spring break, when TA residents woke up to go to class on April 1st, the bridge would finally be completed! Instead of traversing the metal bridge, hundreds of students would instead be able to cross a brand new— April fools! At least that message would have been a more apt subject to the email that was sent
out the very next day, saying that the bridge would not be completed until May 10th due to their contractor’s failure to obtain the proper timbers. After an entire year, the reason this bridge won’t be built until two weeks before graduation is that they can’t find the right wood? I think any kind of timber would be preferable to the wood that we have for a bridge now (which is currently none at all.) I know what you’re all thinking: Matt, this isn’t a big deal. I know that it isn’t. I’m not really complaining about Vassar’s accommodations as much as their priorities. To whoever is in charge of what gets built or fixed and what doesn’t: shame on you. You pull out all stops for the luxury of students that have yet to apply while you can’t be bothered to fix or improve basic accommodations for its students that are here now. Seeing that building go up while the bridge stays torn down makes my personal experience here feel unimportant — a tertiary point to some grander scheme. Why fix the bridge to the TA’s? Us upperclassman who live there will be gone soon anyway, right? And if Vassar waits just one more year, hardly anybody will even be left who remembers that there was a bridge there in the first place. I’m not saying that this new science building isn’t important or that it shouldn’t be built. I just think that by putting all this effort into a long-term goal and ignoring current needs, Vassar is mortgaging its current goodwill in hopes of attaining goodwill in the future. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for and appreciate Vassar, but I don’t think Vassar appreciates us. If you disagree, or think that there isn’t at least a small degree of truth to what I’m saying, feel free to email or call me, because I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. —Matt Elisofon ‘13 is an English major.
French president must reboot agenda Sara Lobo
French president François Hollande has some work to do if he wants to redeem his public approval and realize any of the positive political change that he campaigned for last year. Namely, he must follow through on his promise to clean up the government and make sacrifices to tackle the tumbling economy. Hollande’s campaign for presidency operated under the promise of socialist reform. The campaign centered upon internal reform in an attempt to stamp out political corruption. Under new laws, ministry officials must sign a charter of ethics and find personal means of transportation to work in lieu of the previously provided ministry cars. Having heard these kinds of promises, it is understandable that the French people are frustrated after hearing about members of Hollande’s administration being implicated in embezzlement. Jérôme Cahuzac, the former Socialist budget minister who has been in charge of implementing stricter measures against tax evasion, was caught this week with a secret bank account holding the equivalent of more than 750,000 U.S. dollars. This event further undermines Hollande’s presidency, even as he condemns Cahuzac and vows to continue the cleanup of French political life. For many French citizens, this is just another example proving that politicians are self-interested and lack concern for the common good. Some are even skeptical that Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault were unaware of the account’s existence. The French people have lost faith in Hollande’s ability to follow through with his promises. His administration is further weakened by the worsening economy, once again on the brink of recession. Hollande’s approval rating has fallen to record lows, and unemployment, at 11 percent, has reached a 14-year high. The flailing economy, coupled with an onslaught of new taxes, made it impossible for France to meet their budget-deficit target for 2012, and they have long since given up on making the target for this year. The govern-
ment is currently spending 57 percent of its GDP on public spending—the highest in the Eurozone. There needs to be a compromise to cut this spending, along with other measures to help kickstart the economy, but it will take a strong leader to enact them. The French are blessed with a highly educated society—albeit elitist—and longstanding traditions of democracy and rule of law. The state is heavily involved in certain sectors of life, particularly health care, education, and infrastructure, to ensure a more egalitarian society—in line with socialist philosophies. Over time, a more equitable distribution of wealth has been nurtured. While this does not necessarily run contrary to economic incentive, the current top down income tax of 75 percent offers no motivation for businessmen to reside in the country. Rather, they are choosing to pursue business ventures in other countries. Hollande must recalibrate the country’s political mentality to focus on economic competitiveness. The current benefits in place for people are simply unsustainable in our competitive world. French social philosophy and egalitarian principles need not be abandoned, but compromises must be made, and the populace will have to share the burden. For example, the 35-hour work week is too leisurely to keep a competitive pace with the rest of the world. If Hollande can find a way to convince the French people that longer work weeks are necessary for economic progress, I’m optimistic that they can find a compromise that maintains the French joie de vivre but also fosters a more intense work ethic and attitude. The French unions, which wield a tremendous amount of power, are notoriously opposed to any change that could result in a more burdensome working environment, so Hollande will have to try to compromise with them. The more deluxe government programs, such as doctors visits to homes, could also be scaled back to reduce spending. Such changes must be made with great caution, but I believe there is a way to maintain the French leisurely culture while also attuning it more to
incentives and economic motivation. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy lost public support after being blamed for the financial recession that took place on his watch, with the socialists coming to power over the conservatives. Unlike the hyper-polarization that we routinely see among political parties in the United States, however, the divide we see in France is less severe, as the country fundamentally supports more egalitarian principles. Thus, it is possible for the country to work together to focus on structural economic reform—but Hollande must play an active role in its realization, which he has been neglecting thus far. French intellectuals such as Jean Monnet realized the importance of integration with the rest of Europe after World War II, collaborating with Germany and other countries. This led to the creation of the Common Market, which over time flourished into the European Union. As the Eurozone faces crisis, this collaboration is certainly still a work in progress and requires effort on the part of all member states to keep it intact. The partnership between Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel had been central, but has been less productive under Hollande. Merkel sees Hollande’s reforms as inadequate, and he has been currying favor with southern Mediterranean countries that are against her austerity measures. The challenge for Hollande lies in how to keep France moving forward without losing its joie de vivre. As people lose faith in his presidency and the flashy promises he made at its start, Hollande should focus on rebuilding trust with the people. This objective can be realized if he steps up efforts to curb corruption, but he must also implement measures to improve the economy. This is not to say France should lose its egalitarian, socialist principles, but it must make certain sacrifices to maintain competitiveness with the rest of the world. —Sara Lobo ‘16 is a student at Vassar College.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
on the street
Fifty Nights is this weekend. What would you rather have fifty of, instead of nights?
“Dollars, because I’m poor.” –Moorea Hall, ‘15
“Pieces of sushi.” –Jason Ballon, ‘16
“Liberty League wins.” – Evie Toland, ‘15 and the women’s lacrosse team
“Shades of gray.” – Dan Flynn ‘13
“I want to speak 50 new languages.” –Janet Kanzawa, ‘14
“Days off.” –Sebastien Lasseur, ‘16
Jean-Luc Bouchard, Humor & Satire Editor Katie de Heras, Photo Editor
Letter to the Editor About six years ago, I received my acceptance letter to Vassar as well as the substantial amount of financial aid which made my attendance a possibility. As a result of my experience, I think the recent talk of a supposedly symbolic divestment from petroleum companies is silly. Divestment is not merely a symbolic act since it weakens the College’s financial position by lowering its endowment. This results in fewer available funds for financial aid and thus less economic diversity on campus. Divestment is only symbolic if you take lightly deferring the dreams of the lower and middle class. Furthermore, divestment will not affect the behavior of petroleum companies in any way because prudent investors will snap up the stocks which Vassar sells at less than optimal prices. Investors will win and students will lose. A more meaningful gesture would be a partial boycott of fossil fuel energy. The College could lower the heat in all of the buildings during the colder months and reduce hours at the library and other buildings which currently expend energy late into the night. We would need to gain a shared commitment of all students rather than just place the full burden squarely on the backs of less privileged members of the community. Also, divestment is easy and therefore it is easily dismissed by the broader public. A partial boycott tells the entire world that Vassar is serious about the environment and will make active sacrifices to ensure that the world we leave the next generation is better than the one we inherited. I encourage the Trustees to keep in mind the best interests of all current and future Vassar students regardless of their wealth or lack thereof. Moreover, I encourage individual students to make their own personal sacrifices rather than fixate on grand gestures. I walked two miles to the grocery store today and walked two miles back. That’s the sort of thing we need to do if we care about sustainability. —Conor Kenney ‘11
April 11, 2013
VSA structure must reflect value-based representation, look toward committees Joshua Sherman
Assistant Opinions Editor
I believe we’re facing a serious conflict in how we look for representation on our campus. I think in many ways the current incarnation of the VSA is looking to satisfy a lot of different needs and duties with representation among just a couple dozen individuals. It’s really efficient and also an easy way to split up voting into a set of groups, but it unfortunately ignores an important aspect of representative government. I’m not criticizing the VSA—not by a long shot. I applaud the efforts of those who spend their days attending committee meetings, holding office hours, talking to constituents, and just caring about improving our campus. In addition, it’s important to note that, according to institutional memory, our current VSA structure is fiscally responsible, and does a good job of addressing concerns based on people’s current class year and area of residence. This is an effective way to ensure easy access, as well as effective communication between a constituent and the representative. Another great benefit in the current VSA structure is how well it allows classes and houses to hold events, receive funding, and show support for things that need to be done. We need class and house events, and we need a sense of camaraderie among these respective groups. That being said, there is a serious deficit in value-based representation on our campus, and the manner in which we elect students to government seems to be denying an effective way for constituents to vote on values, rather than what the current process allows. Value-based representation is how you create a thriving government, as it allows people who align to certain goals, beliefs, and ideas to cast their vote not on a person with respect
to where they live, or what class year they’re in, but instead how we agree or disagree with their values and feelings towards social, political, economic, and other issues that our campus faces every year. But here’s the real problem: We need a government that is capable of having its cake and eating it too. House Presidents and Class Presidents are essential to keeping the gears turning through the events that are ran on campus, meetings held, and everything in between. Meanwhile, we need a way to elect people based on their values and beliefs with respect to campus issues. We need both flavors of representation, but only have so many seats in our government’s current form, and we need both of these necessities taken care of by our campus leadership. So what is the solution? In the current form of the VSA, the most values-based structures seem to be committees. Committee seat-holders are right now the only individuals elected in a campus-wide manner with respect to their values. Committees like CIRC allow students to express their personal values, goals, and beliefs with respect to issues like financing, and the endowment, which the remainder of the VSA government doesn’t really address. Instead, elections for the most part devolve into arguments of whoever has the best ideas, whoever you think to be a better person, or who you just think would do a better job, without a strong understanding of their beliefs on issues presented to the VSA every week. There is no solution, actually. Committees maybe could be given more attention; maybe we need a senatorial system along the lines of the one proposed by the VSA constitutional amendment from 2011; maybe we should abandon class- and house-based Council positions altogether. The point is that we are not ad-
dressing the biggest fluke in the current VSA structure: people are elected first based on the duties of their house or class, and second on their values. These are two very different jobs, and really should perhaps be two different jobs. The person who I think should be the VSA VP for Finance should be qualified in terms of their fiscal responsibility and expertise in handling our budgets. However, I also think that we need need to be aware of the dangers of prioritizing ability over values. Committees offer this space, but they have no voting power in a space of student government, and generally have more to do with our relationship with the campus administration. Our student government, which is in charge of financing, speaking as a voice of the student body, organization certification, and a myriad of other important student tasks, offers no dedicated platform through which students can represent based on values here on campus. I think the most effective thing to keep in mind in the years ahead as we consider a restructuring of the VSA is to remember that we need both effective people for the jobs they are taking on, as well as people who can address a diverse set of values and beliefs. Doing this will allow for an effective government, as well as one that is actually invested in the big issues on both sides, be willing to debate it and discuss them extensively. Where the fine print lies in all of this is unknown to me, but these factors must all be accounted for in order for the product of restructuring to be an effective manner in governing, and something we can look back on and be proud of. —Josh Sherman ‘16 is an English major. He is Assistant Opinions Editor of The Miscellany News.
The Miscellany Crossword by Jack Mullan, Crossword Editor
1 Missile initials 4 “Urbanspoon” or “iBooks” 7 ___ Mahal 10 Tattoo word, often 13 She, in Lisbon 14 Deadly snake 15 Gray 16 Señora Perón 17 *Home named after Vassar’s second president 19 Uncooked 20 Verdi’s “___ giardin del bello” 21 Langston Hughes poem 22 Monitor inits. 24 Half of a round trip 26 Home to 20−plus students 29 Home beyond the bridge 30 “___ che sapete,” Mozart aria 31 *Home nearest the Deec 36 Thing you don’t want to twist
40 Kind of home that 26−, 47− and 57−across are 42 “That’s ___−brainer” 43 *Home with a Jetson lounge 44 Kind of home that the starred clues are 46 Soccer chant 47 Home to chickens, as well as students 50 Whitney Houston’s “All the Man That ___” 51 *Home to a “family” 54 Possesses 56 “Ditto,” on Twitter 57 Home to a carnivorous collective 63 They may be wild 67 Tiny colonist 68 Face−to−face exam 69 Mother bear, in Málaga 70 Anthem contraction 72 *Home to some transfer and visitng students 74 Vassar’s funk group 75 Big D.C. lobby 76 Rock producer Brian 77 One step ___ time
Answers to last week’s puzzle
78 NNW’s opposite 79 “Well I’ll be!” 80 McCain or McConnell: Abbr. 81 Half a laugh
49 Opportunities 52 Rage 53 *Home to one sex 55 Bring into harmony
58 Sports video game co. 59 “___−la−la!” 60 Dickens’s Heep
61 Annual sleigh driver
DOWN 1 Sans−___ (kind of typeface) 2 Ticket 3 City leader 4 Blood type system 5 Wet−weather gear 6 Poet Colum 7 Paving goo 8 Food thickener 9 *Home with 9 floors 10 It might start with “Starters” 11 Done 12 *Home that once contained the most interior space of any building in the country 18 N. African land 23 You, to Jacques 25 Monogram of the 21st V.P. 27 Part of fashion’s YSL 28 With 41−down, a replay speed 32 High school credit 33 Not common 34 “This one’s ___” 35 De la Soul member, for short 36 Give ___ of approval 37 Home to the N.F.L.’s Saints, informally 38 Ukrainia capital: Var. 39 French article 41 Salad topping 44 10−down offering 45 Off’s opposite 47 See 28−down 48 Alphabetic trio
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
62 “Pomp and Circumstance” composer 63 *Home that is “boss” 64 Bolivian bears
65 Leafy vegetable 66 Desertlike 71 “Norma ___” 73 Holy Trinity part
April 11, 2013
HUMOR & SATIRE
Breaking News From the desk of Jean-Luc Bouchard, Humor & Satire Editor Arlington residents eat Deece food at “Meet Me in Vassar” outreach program just to leave the Poughkeepsie bubble Mr. Bouchard’s helpful hints Untapped brainpower: are we for reigning in your anxiety wasting our mental potential? Jean-Luc Bouchard
Humor & satire Editor
If you’re like me, you fear all people/events/ things. When I’m in a haunted house, this kind of behavior is considered normal. When I’m in the Vassar Bookstore, knees shaking in terror with the prospect of having to decide between Original and Special Italian Blend snack mix and possibly ruining my life/my unborn children’s lives with the wrong choice, it is less OK. But fear no more, friends! Your handy-dandy Humor & Satire Editor has compiled a list of tips that have helped curb my own anxiety, and may help alleviate yours as well. 1. Pump yourself up in front of the mirror. Everyone morning, when my pet rooster Franklin Delano Crows-a-velt wakes me up at the crack of dawn, I spend between forty and fifty minutes screaming positive things at myself in the mirror (#sorrynotsorry person who lives next to me). It’s a great way to build self-esteem before heading out into the cruel, unyielding world of the Kiosk line. I look myself right in the eyes and make my way through a list of confident aphorisms, ranging from “Your face has looked worse, remember middle school?” to “That one attractive Deece worker really DOES see something special in the way you ask to use a guest swipe” to “Someday they’ll pay! They’ll all pay! You are son of the moon and brother of the sun! You have the power to defeat all who oppose you! Devour their souls and make them taste sweet cold dirt!” to “You go, champ!” If you have trouble coming up with your own phrases, try watching an episode of Dora the Explorer and copying down everything Dora says to you after you correctly follow her instructions. (Yes, Dora, I SWEAR I said the word “Map.”) 2. Picture everyone in their underwear. It’s a cliché of public speaking that if you picture your audience in their underwear, you gain confidence. So why not apply that to everyday life? You’d be amazed how calm you are when you consider yourself the only fully-dressed per-
son in an English seminar full of naked weirdos. Utilizing this trick, places like The Mug, Founder’s Day, and any studio art class suddenly make a whole lot more sense. And if you’re bi like me, this technique can just generally make life a heck of a lot more interesting/wonderful/distracting/ all-consuming/make it stop I can’t do work. 3. Reward yourself for confident behavior. Every time I make a quick decision or act self-assuredly in a social situation, I reward myself. I used to reward myself with an hour of Netflix, but it wasn’t quite enough of an incentive to be less anxious. So now I reward myself with the basic human necessities of sleep, nourishment, sunlight, and shelter. Earlier today, I told a professor that I disagreed with his analysis in front of the entire class, so now I get to add thirty minutes of sleep and a handful of dry protein powder to my daily routine. And if I end up not breaking down in tears before my internship interview, I’m allowed to finally tape some old issues of The Miscellany News together to replace these Vassar Chronicle shoes. 4. Stop leaving your room. Or as I call it, “My Weekend.” I may live in a cramped Jewett single that smells like lentils, dusty Pokémon cards, and whatever watching too much Game of Thrones smells like, but at least it’s MY crampled Jewett single. I am the King of my oddly-shaped castle! When I’m in my room, I can wear what I want (They Might Be Giants t-shirt, plaid boxers, knee socks), I can say what I want (primarily quotes from Teen Titans and Dexter’s Laboratory screamed out in my sleep), and I can eat what I want (salami and egg sandwiches with Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies as bread) with minimal social anxiety. (I say minimal because even my subconscious is aware of how lame and true all of that is.) 5. Compare yourself to any Michael Cera character. You feel like Kanye West now, don’t ya?
Law and Order: SVU, a glorious piece of cinematic artwork that features the amazing acting talents of such great masters as Ice-T, always ends with a disclaimer that lets you know that the preceding events were fictional and New York is not actually a city filled with clowns who have homicidal foot fetishes. For my own personal disclaimer precluding this article, I would like to emphasize that I know very little about science and that much of what I am going to write is hypothetical and based off of little to zero fact, kind of like claims that UFOs, Snooki, or the Yeti exist. Which, obviously, is ridiculous because the Yeti is totally real, but you get it. “They” (i.e, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Glen Coco, that dog who went to space because Russia was short on humans, and other important people) say that humans only use 10% of their brain. Despite knowing very little about actual science, I know my basic facts, like how the human body is 80% water. I also answer all test questions I don’t know the answer to with “photosynthesis.” Obviously, I am qualified to have philosophical thoughts on scientific matters on a regular basis. I usually start to think about the 10% claim when I am studying for a test, or trying to fill out an important government form— it makes absolutely no logical sense that I still know every word to Hilary Duff’s debut album “Metamorphosis” but that I have no idea what the last four digits of my social security number are. Yesterday I forgot what year it was. Really. So the question is, here at our scenic liberal arts college located in the heart of the Hudson Valley, what would happen if we used, say, 50% of our brains? My scientific hypothesis is stated as follows: I think things might change unless of course I am proved wrong and then I take it back. For example, campus-wide issues such as the TA bridge would be addressed. If Vassar students could use more of their brains, they would realize that Vassar is clearly just playing an elaborate prank on its student body, in which they keep a camera pointed at the sewage pipe and the faculty uses the footage of people falling into the “unpolluted” steam as stress relief. We could proba-
Water under the TA bridge by Rachel Lenihan, Guest Cartoonist
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
bly also come together to form a solution, such as a zip line that runs from Main to the TAs or maybe jet packs fueled by political correct-ness. I believe a lot of our new brain power could also be applied to the issue of campus housing and dining. It’s well known that thinking really hard burns 10,000 calories every twenty minutes. This is why the one time that I was in the library for 6 hours straight with only a large bag of grapes; I lost 32 pounds and was offered a contract with Victoria’s Secret. But that’s beside the point; with our new collective brain power, we could actually remember the hours that the Bean is open. Even more impressively, we could consistently FIND where the Bean is! AND we would be equipped with the Domino’s phone number at all times, and would be able to decide in an instant what three medium-sized one topping pizzas from the 5-5-5 deal to eat alone in our room while kind-of studying for the midterm you have tomorrow but mostly just watching Youtube videos of Nicolas Cage yelling at people. Your unbelievably tiny single will no longer be an issue, because you will realize that you can just set up an extra bedroom in the Meditation Room in the library that comes with free body sized pillows (NEW BOYFRIEND). You would also know that the best way to solve the issue of a roommate who is fooling around with their significant other WHILE YOU ARE IN THE ROOM is NOT to quietly wait there and pretend you are asleep, nor is it to pretend to have a coughing attack. The correct response, you will see with your new brain power, is to go over to said couple and just casually attempt to plank on top of them, demanding that it be photodocumented. They will be so impressed by your creative use of a slightly outdated meme that they’ll want to take a picture and a fun conversation will ensue, all awkwardness gone. Considering that I am a person who regularly puts their wallet in their backpack the night before to “be prepared” and then spends the five minutes before leaving for class frantically tearing my room apart wondering where on earth I put my wallet, any input on how to use more of this brain of mine is appreciated. Because I’m not getting rid of those Hilary Duff lyrics.
April 11, 2013
Globe trekker Milton explores the definition of an artist Margaret Yap
Jiajing Sun/The Miscellany News
Quinn Milton ’14, a Studio Art major who focuses mainly on drawing and painting, has, as she put it, been “blessed with opportunities.” Only a junior in college, she has had work exhibited in Ireland, London, and California. “For me,” she said, “the actual practice of making art is something that I feel the need to be doing. I definitely feel it when I’m not doing it—it’s a space that I need for myself.” Milton has never asked herself what she wanted to do with her life—in fact, she’s been finger-painting since the age of one or two. “It was always a thing for me,” she said, explaining that when she was young she would even get offended when people asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. “I am an artist right now,” she would say. Nevertheless, growing up has provided Milton with a variety of otherwise inaccessible opportunities, such as the chance to study in Ballyvaughan, Ireland last semester. She attended the Burren College of Art, being the first Vassar student to do so, and participated in an art intensive program which required her to be in the studio from nine to five each day. She found it to be a special chance to further develop her skills with minimal outside interference. “It was a really good experience,” she reflected. “It was great to have an opportunity to just focus on doing studio art with no distractions in the middle of a really gorgeous place.” During her time abroad, Milton created a triptych of drawings in black charcoal which was displayed in the end-of-semester show, pieces she is particularly proud of. “I felt I had simplified an image that started out being too complex, and it got down to the core idea of what I wanted,” she said. “With these three drawings, I was able to put out images that I’d been carrying with me for a long time and that I’ve wanted to show.”
The pieces were reviewed in her class and received positive feedback, with viewers picking up on many of the themes Milton wished to communicate. Milton has often worked more specifically in collaboration with other students during her time at Vassar, which she chose to attend in part for the strength of its Art Department. She is currently working on a sequence of drawings to accompany the poems of a friend’s dissertation. “There are a lot more possibilities and it can be easier to be motivated… and to come up with the best idea,” she said of collaborative projects. “But the work is very different. It’s probably not going to be exactly what I want to do, because my work is personal.” Milton believes a good artist should have a personal stake in her work and value herself by what she does. “I prefer to tailor projects to what I’m interested in,” she said, “so that I do have more of an investment in it. You’re trying to build a body of work that’s coherent and that’s going to move you forward.” Milton is currently working on paintings and large-scale drawings, including images that illustrate dreams, insomnia, and the phases of sleep. She describes these images as a conversation with herself and plans to include them in her senior portfolio, a body of work that will display her true interests. “I think people have the impression that art is not academic, like it’s some weird, mystical thing,” Milton remarked. “But there’s a lot of interesting thought and research that goes into art.” Another thing people might underestimate, said Milton, is the dedication artists need to have. “There is a lot of hard work and hard labor,” she said, “and a lot of time that goes into making art. And besides that…you need to be really invested [and] prolific. It’s just very chal-
Studio Art major Quinn Milton ’14, pictured above, has had her work displayed in cities across the world. Her current projects explore dreams, insomnia and the phases of sleep through paintings. lenging to figure out what you want to be doing and how to express that.” The struggles of creating art don’t end with the mind. Although Milton has earned success as a visual artist, her journey has not lacked physical effort. To illustrate this point, she described a project that required repeatedly shoveling gravel into a wheelbarrow to create a mound of rocks as well as a drawing that became more than a little physical as she worked on it. “It was this piece of paper that was larger than I was,” she elaborated. “I was working with graphite and [an] eraser and getting it to be really thick on the page. I developed a really serious thumb cramp – my shoulder and whole
arm were aching, and I was literally panting as I tried to work with the paper.” Despite the intense labor it takes to prove oneself as a dedicated artist, Milton maintains that the struggle is worth it and eventually plans to pursue her Master’s in Fine Arts and become a professional artist. To those aspiring visual artists out there, she advises regular practice as well as genuine dedication. “At the end of the day,” she said, “you have to put the hours in. And when you do, a lot of other things will emerge.” For examples of the end results of this dedication and practice, check out her artwork at www.q-u-i-n-n-m.tumblr.com and www.librarynthine.com.
Schwartz moves away from traditional nature poetry Pilar Solomon-Jefferson Guest reporter
courtesy of poetshouse.org
April, along with signaling the start of pleasant spring vibes, is National Poetry Month. Luckily, both the gorgeous weather and the proliferation of poetry coincide with poet Leonard Schwartz’s upcoming visit to Vassar. Schwartz is a Bard graduate and Professor of Literary Arts at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. He is currently on sabbatical and teaching at Columbia University. He will be reading from his recently published books IF and At Element, both of which contain poetry that is inspired by nature and pieces that question the history of poetry regarding nature. The impetus to invite Mr. Schwartz to campus came from his meeting Vassar Professor of English Michael Joyce, who specializes in hyper-text fiction, at an event sponsored by poet Stephen Motika, a Vassar graduate and the current director of Poet’s House, a poetry library and literary center in New York City. When talking about Schwartz’s work and why he invited him to Vassar, Joyce said: “He has a particularly ‘Vassar sensibility’ with its range of his philosophical ideas, and his political interests.” Furthermore, Joyce explained that seeing any speaker exposes the Vassar community to different ways of thinking and perceptions, a staple of the liberal arts education. This is particularly true of Schwartz’ material concerning nature poetry. In describing his work’s nature-based slant, Schwartz explained: “I have always been interested in the relationship between a form of writing called philosophy and a form of writing called poetry. I’ve always thought that you could find moments in which the figures of the myth turn into the concepts or abstractions of philosophy.” According to Schwartz, myth is a way of encouraging nature to speak with us by giving it a voice. That being said, his recent work offers a critique of nature poetry as it stands today. Jokingly, Schwartz referred to mainstream nature poetry as “nature porn.” He said: “Nature poetry reifies or objectifies the natural object away from everything else, in the same
Poet and visiting professor at Columbia, Leonard Schwartz critical inteterest lies in the intersection of poetry and philosophy. He will be reading from his work on Wednesday, April 17 in the Faculty Parlor. way that porn reifies or objectifies and isolates the sexual act.” Schwartz takes a more holistic approach when writing about nature. “In terms of nature I respond to it both existentially and by way of text,” he said. Schwartz expounded on the differences between Ecopoetics and nature poetry. “What is ecologically sound or what I call Ecopoetics doesn’t even look like nature poetry on the surface. It has to be as complex as any ecosystem and derive on the interdependencies that an ecosystem has,” Schwartz furthered. As part of his own codependent relationship, like those found in nature, he cites his current home in the woods of the Pacific Northwest as inspiration, as well as other poetry about this genre, including work by fellow Northwest poet Robin Blaser and his collection titled “The Holy Forest.” Poetry is not the only complex system in Schwartz’s writing. He also describes the
process of writing poetry as being a way of drawing on experience and inspiration from outside texts much like a conversation. That conversation extends to Schwartz’s experience finding a balance in his life as both a professional writer and a teacher. “At Evergreen State College, where I’m teaching, everything is team taught so I’m always working with someone in a different medium or discipline and learning from that conversation. I’m also engaged with students I’ve taught in a seminar situation,” he explained. “In a seminar you plant a seed and then months later or nine years later the idea emerges,” he added. Besides being nature inspired, Joyce also described Schwartz’s work as being very muc h grounded in the political. “Everything is political...politics is the art of power and people are always trying to maximize one’s power or distribute power equally or otherwise,” said Schwartz. That said, he has also addressed current
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political issues head on in some of his earlier works. Schwartz lived in New York City in the early 2000s and was there during the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. He wrote works in response to his own thoughts about the attacks and their intense social fallout. For his Vassar visit, he said he was considering the idea of reading a series of his poems called the “Apple Anyone Sonnets” from that period. These poems, while not explicitly political, are curious because they contain keywords in English that are in fact derived from Arabic. When talking about why he gave himself this constraint while writing his poetry, Schwartz explained, “This was at the time of greatest persistence in the political mainstream that there was a clash of civilizations, that our nation and the Arabic world were so radically other and different to one another... which of course is not true.” He, however, wanted to demonstrate this false conception more subtly. “You can barely name a piece of fruit without using a word that’s derived from Arabic,” Schwartz laughed. “English and Arabic were so profoundly intertwined that it was absurd to talk about a clash in civilization.” Schwartz often approaches his process by setting a goal or responding specifically to other writing. His current course at Columbia University is called Ecopoetics: The Black of the Page. The phrase “working from the black of the page” means writing with prewritten work in front of you, by doing research and finding a topic or structure ahead of time before starting the writing process. Schwartz likened working with language as an artistic material to the unlikely example of working as a sculptor with stone in a quarry. According to Joyce, this approach gives his work the ability to illuminate while maintaing a strong poetic voice. “His work gives life to complex ideas without losing musical vision,” Joyce said. Schwartz will be reading at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 in the Faculty Parlor in Main Building.
April 11, 2013
Painter Sillman to demystify Renza captures breakdown functions of color, perception of modern social customs Jack Owen Arts Editor
Through the Vassar Art Department’s Agnes Claflin lecture series, many revered artists have come to campus to share their insights, ranging from printmakers to sculptors. Next Tuesday’s lecture will feature the esteemed Brooklyn painter Amy Sillman, who will present a talk titled: “Color: A User’s Guide.” An artist with a diverse array of skills, Sillman specializes in various media, such as largescale oil paintings and digital animations. She is a prolific artist and has been exhibiting her work for over twenty years. Her pieces have been featured in galleries and museums across the nation and abroad, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum, and The Boston Museum of Fine Art among many others. “Amy Sillman is a highly influential artist whose work ranges from large-scale oil paintings to digital animations made on an iPhone,” said Associate Professor of Art Laura Newman, a close friend of Sillman’s who helped to organize her visit. “Her work offers a model of painting as a place of openness- it combines formal and material invention with ideas from philosophy, psychology, feminism, humor, sex and ordinary life,” Newman added. Sillman earned her Bachelor’s in Arts at The School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1973. After earning her degree, she spent many years painting and working on her process, and not exhibiting her work. After earning her Master’s in Fine Arts at Bard College in 1995, Sillman began showing her work more, having been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and later a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000. In addition to working as an artist, Sillman teaches during the summer, and is the CoChair of the Painting Department at Bard Col-
lege’s Master’s in Fine Arts Program. In her lecture at Vassar, Sillman will present a digital animation and discuss color theory, specifically problems in color and perceptions of color. I’m going to in large part talk about color—ideas about color and color interpretations, and the way color has been discussed and talked about in the world,” she explained. “I’m also going to talk about my own work a little bit and how I use color and how I deal with process,” she added. The next day, she will meet with Art majors to provide further advice. Sillman’s work is very improvisational. “It’s a process of working, and not so much a process based on think of an idea, then make a picture,” Sillman said. She generally does not begin a piece with a set image in mind, but rather it surfaces through the process itself. “My work has a lot of involvement with drawing and a lot of involvement with a heavy kind of process, a heavy kind of work,” she explained. “I make a lot of changes, and I make a lot of decisions while I’m working. I sort of work and negotiate between image and abstraction, and so my work is a lot about going back and forth, finding an image while I’m working and sort of working and adjusting that.” Her pieces, as multi-layered, are regarded as having very rich textures and forms that are fulfilling from a distance and up close. This year will be very busy for Sillman. Some of her pieces are part of The Whitney Museum’s exhibit, Blues for Smoke, an exhibition that highlights an array of contemporary art that deals with the blues. She is also working on a September exhibition for the Thomas Dane Gallery in London, and a mid-career survey show at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in October. Sillman will speak on Tuesday, April 16th at 6 PM in Taylor Hall 203.
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suggestion from a friend, and read “God of Carnage” and found herself fascinated by the exploration of social rules, how adults fill expectations of behavior, and what is revealed when these expectations are forgotten. “It’s breaking down the perceived notions of behavior. The veneer has been breaking since we were in high school but before that adults were perfect. When we get to college, we realize that adults cause a lot of the problems in the world. It’s playing the image of adults as perfectly behaved and civilized and turning it to pieces,” she explained. Despite not being able to promote the show as openly as they would because of copy-right obstacles, Shirilla and the cast are very excited for the production and are eager to talk about it in any way they can. And though serious themes are explored in the play, it is undoubtedly a comedy. For Iris Kohler ’13, who acts in the show, the comedic elements define the show more than its serious ones. “We get to see [the characters] at their most vulnerable. But, one of my favorite things about this play is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Actually, it’s hilarious. The characters are so over the top in their behavior and beliefs. So it’s not vulnerability in the dramatic sense, it’s much more basic and childish than that. We just get to play,” she said. In describing her character, who is in the middle of writing a book on Darfur when the play takes place, Kohler emphasizes the exposed hypocrisy and contradictions in one’s character. “She says she does what she can to save the world but it’s all in service of her own ego and martyred soul. She doesn’t actually know what it means to be a good person. Eventually, that’s where her crazy emerges,” she explained. In essence, this character presents an altru-
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istic façade behind which she can hide her true selfishness. The emergence of her true self underscores the “carnage” that takes place in the play: the slaughter of social conventions that reveals the true nature of the characters. For Shirilla, the humor was evident from the very first rehearsal. “We read the script and laughed our way through it,” she said. This laughter has continued throughout the rehearsal process. Both Shirilla and the cast found that the humor made the rehearsal process more enjoyable, if a bit unfocused. “It sometimes has been a challenge to get us, the cast, to focus because we mess around and giggle so much,” Kohler said. Shirilla’s directorial style emphasizes collaboration. Rather than dictate her own thoughts for the play and force the actors to strictly abide by her ideas, Shirilla has empowered the cast to share and infuse their own feelings into their characters. This collaboration allowed them to deepen their connection to the play and make stronger acting choices. “We have had such great chemistry from the start, allowing us to experiment with big risks and ridiculous actions, all while maintaining the world of the play,” actor Daniel Polonsky ’15 explained. “God of Carnage” presents important themes for the Vassar student to explore. As we venture into adulthood, we increasingly adopt social rules that influence our behavior around others. This production forces us to reflect on whether our social selves are adequate reflections of our true inner selves, all while laughing the whole way through. Polonsky explained, “This play is a fun romp that is enjoyable to watch unravel, but also puts on display the theater we create when we try to maintain face in front of strangers.”
April 11, 2013
Spring Breakers: shallow romp or ingenious commentary? Spring Breakers Harmony Korine Muse Productions
Lily Sloss Columnist
“It’s just like James Franco saying ‘sprang break, sprang break’ the whole time. That’s what I heard.” With this comment, and only this, as my fore-knowledge of Spring Breakers, I sat in the theater. I was surrounded by high school kids, or potentially hyper-immature college students, all screaming and shouting obscenities and bouncing in their seats. Moments later, the movie started, the noisiness of the audience increased, and I realized just how unprepared I was for the movie. The film begins with Skrillex music pumping in the background and then bodies, primarily half-naked female ones, covering the screen. Shots of bare boobs, asses shaking in bikini bottoms, females licking popsicles erotically, men pouring beers into girls’ open, clamoring, mouths, and a series of half-maniacal, ecstatic college age students screaming as they flip off the camera passed in front of my eyes in the endless span of three minutes. It was a remarkably uncomfortable three minutes, despite being familiar with TRL’s fairly similar depictions of “Spring Break,” and I felt grateful that I was wearing a sweater. After the viewer’s initial foray into the hyper-glossed images of “kids having fun” on spring break, the viewers are pulled into the dark, computer lined classroom where our female protagonists are being lectured. As the teacher discusses civil rights and the Reconstruction era, boredom drives one of our leads to faux- lick a hand drawn erotic graphic. Her friend draws something equally inane, and the girls whisper “just wait until spring break!” Oh, the fun they will have ignoring history and real life, as they “get it in” and “party their faces off.” Spring Breakers has quite a lead cast. Three of the four female stars are instantly recognizable by teen and pre-teen fans for their acting “work” in High School Musical, The Wizards of Waverly Place, and Pretty Little Liars. The
primary two biddies, played by Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens, are blond, insane, and exhibit a semi-erotic friendship. The other “Disney Princess” is Selena Gomez, aptly named Faith for her role as the token religious friend in the group, ready to finally let loose. The group is rounded out by Harmony Korine, the director’s wife, whose role mainly seems to be “agree with the other characters” and “have pink hair.” Forced to desperate measures because they can’t afford spring break, the two blonde girls (Hudgens and Benson) mug strangers in a restaurant. Easily accomplished, the four girls head to Florida and at first, have a deliciously fun time. In between binge-drinking and a lot of friendship time, Gomez calls her grandma to tell her she feels like she’s “just beginning to find who she really is.” However, Gomez’s heightened self-awareness comes to a wrenching halt when the girls are arrested. Lucky for them, Alien, a drug dealing psychotic crazy, played by James Franco, bails them out. He brings the girls along with him to a house in the ghetto where there are a lot of black people, and Gomez suddenly feels things have gone “too far.” “These people are strangers,” she whispers to her female cohorts, “I don’t like them touching me.” When the strangers were white, college aged, and wasted, Gomez didn’t have a problem being rubbed against. However, when she is in what is depicted as “the hood” with African American strangers, she feels frightened. She gets the hell out of Spring Break, and the audience never sees her again. The three remaining girls go to live with Alien, who is depicted as a hilarious characterization of a kingpin. His house is covered in drugs, guns, and cash. He has a piano by his swimming pool, and all the money he could ever need. He is also the seediest character alive, but the girls find him delightful. They never want to leave. However, too soon fate strikes again and pink-haired Korine gets shot and leaves spring break. As soon as any of the characters express emotion or anything too intimately related to feelings, they are sent out of the film. Back to “college.” Ew, lame sauce, amiright?! The film concludes with the remaining two blondes serving as Alien’s main partners in crime, al-
ternating sleeping with him and shooting up spring breakers. After leaving the movie and discussing it at length, I am caught in a dilemma. The film was either terrifically stupid, lacking plot, story, and character depth, or it was an insightful critique of our generation and American society. If the film is a critique, and I hope that it was, Spring Breakers points out our flawed views of race, gender, and consequences. If we think of the classic rap music video, what does it show? Boobs, asses, guns, drugs, “gangsters” in the hood, nice cars and nice broads, right? Spring Breakers indulgently displays these stereotypes of black culture. The filmmakers, to underline this point, cast a popular African American rapper, Gucci Mane, to play the only black lead. Ultimately, the film reduces African American males to a stereotype of drugs, aggression, and gun violence. Continuing an obscene depiction of race and culture, the film ends with a KKK reference. The two white female leads, eyes peeking out through white ski masks, shoot and kill a house full of African Americans. The motivation behind the shooting isn’t entirely evident, but instead exhibits the white characters “winning” and again getting away scot-free. The lack of consequences evident throughout the film makes sense if we view Spring Breakers as a video game. Although the females are constantly participating in dangerous behavior, incessantly putting themselves in dangerous situations where their bodies are extremely vulnerable, nothing that bad ever happens. Even when they are arrested, they only spend a short time in jail, and the montage of shots seems more of an opportunity to display the girls in bathing suits snuggling than a poignant moment of repercussions for foolish actions. Furthermore, the film follows a certain narrative logic, where video game images run rampant: the unfounded aggression of the characters, the hyper-sexualized depiction of female bodies, and the reckless behavior. The female characters are essentially playing Grand Theft Auto. And it’s SO fun! The spring breakers are happy. All the time. What an amazing experience. SPRING BREAK, NO PARENTS, NO RULES. No three dimensional characters, either. The film never depicts any way to emotionally connect with any of the characters. Furthermore,
we don’t know anything about the girls’ families, homes, or backgrounds, besides a limited view of the church group that Selena Gomez participates in. We hardly even hear the lead characters’ names mentioned. It seems that instead of depicting real female characters, the filmmakers instead chose to place bodies on the screen to stand as images of “what we want.” Our generation wants to live a wild lifestyle, free from rules and parental expectations, where you can do crazy shit and never worry about your actions. The film provides how a spring break from life would be. Personally, I left the film emptied. Seeing the “Disney Princesses” visualized in a grown up, collegiate phase, smoking, drinking, displaying their bodies and themselves as objects at the world, I felt a sense of despair. Our Disney stars are kids, right? So does this mean we imagine the representation portrayed by the female stars is the natural next step for children? To transition immediately from playing wizards and enjoying musical sing-a-longs to using their bodies for sex and flipping off the audiences who grew up with them? Is this “maturity?” Whether this film was intentionally selfaware, exploring a racist, classist, sexist culture who wants drugs and money and cars to be happy, poking fun at our expectations, or if it was not, and instead used these same bigoted images to draw in a blockbuster sized audience, it still paints a hideous portrait of the expectations of our society. In the theater, we watched James Franco storm a room of spring breakers with his white female cohorts and beat the shit out of innocent strangers. In the background, the Britney Spears song “Everytime” plays, eliciting raucous laughter from the audience. What kind of a culture do we live in that entirely unwarranted violence could be depicted as a moment of hilarity? America! I believe that the scariest aspect of Spring Breakers is how many of its audience members will take the film at face value, entirely ignoring any cultural critique evident, and leave desiring to be like the depthless, volatile, fearless female leads. As we left the movie, the very first thing my friend said was, illustrating just such a simple reading of the film: “Now I just really want to try coke.” Point made, Spring Breakers.
‘Darkness at noon’ illuminates the value of art history Zoe Dostal Columnist “In darkness at noon.” This mysterious phrase is how Professor of Art and Chair of Art Molly Nesbit describes the seminal Vassar course Art 105-106. She is referring to the thrice-weekly ritual when students are submerged into darkness to absorb the whole of man’s artistic production in both time and space. Specialists guide the class on a journey from the first monumental constructions of Mesopotamia to contemporary short films using larger-than-life projections, 3D technology and cutting-edge research. Since the course’s founding in 1928, thousands of students have entered the Taylor Hall auditorium and Art 105-106 has become one of the cornerstones of a Vassar education. Unfortunately, that cornerstone has become slightly unstable. A dip in enrollment is causing the Art Department to commence a mission of recruiting new students. “Periodically, because of the changes in technology and communication, we lose the bridge to the prospective students,” explained Nesbit. “I think we are at a moment where the bridge is out and we have to rebuild it.” Part of rebuilding that bridge is battling a wall of misinformation about the course requirements and disinterest by students who don’t immediately understand the relevance of the course to their lives. I would like to take this opportunity to battle common misperceptions and explain the many benefits of taking Art 105 for every Vassar student. First of all, the rumors that Art 105 requires copious amounts of coursework is simply not true—each week usually requires a maximum of twenty pages of reading. There are two writing assignments per semester, usually two
to three pages each, plus a midterm and final exam. This is far less work than any other class I personally have taken at Vassar. The emphasis of Art 105 is on learning and transcendental experience rather than regurgitation and proving yourself—it is up to the individual student to make her own experience, and engage with the material at her preferred level of comfort. Yes, students are required to memorize the monuments list, and this can be daunting the first time around. The department recognizes the challenge and provides numerous tools for students, including mixers with Art 105 veterans to share strategies for memorization. As Professor Nesbit points out, to grasp the material you need information, just like you need to know the periodic table or how to conjugate verbs if you major in chemistry or a foreign language, respectively. Speaking of chemistry, this class has tremendous value to non-art history majors. An integral part of a liberal arts education is engagement—applying classroom knowledge to grapple with the world and our place in it. The subjects in which we specialize are not isolated from one another, and interdisciplinary thought is vital. Biology major Kate Czechowski ‘13 took Art 105 in her freshman year and has since nearly completed a minor. Addressing the overlap between the two, she wrote, “Both disciplines ask you to look at a problem in a similar way. There is a similar process of analysis and dissection, and with art history you learn to write about sort of complex notions in a graceful way.” This is just one example among many of how art history can positively contribute to your Vassar education. As Vassar students we have been given both the privilege and the responsibility to be stewards of human knowledge. These objects that
have been lovingly created over thousands of years, representing all of human history, must somehow be preserved. In darkness at noon, blown up on a screen, they are activated by the lecturer, passing down an epic oral history. This tradition, the carrying of epics, is bigger than any of us. The desire and struggle to produce art is an integral part of our humanity, as is the necessity of preserving it. Examining the evolution of human artistic production allows the exploration of the whole of human experience.“Art history is a map of ideas, things, works of art, buildings, philosophies, religions, individual people’s dreams or nightmares,” said Nesbit. Artists both react to and drive political upheaval, scientific inquiry and social revolution. It is through taking Art 105 and following this map across the world in both space and time that one can, according to Nesbit, begin to understand the world from a more holistic perspective. No other course at Vassar currently covers this vast amount of material in such a comprehensive way—no other class conceivably could. In fact, this experience is unique amongst our peer institutions. Each section of the course— be it Gothic architecture, Japanese printmaking or American folk art—is taught by an expert in the field. Nesbit calls the class a gift to the students, explaining, “The introduction comes with expertise loaded into it that nobody but another specialist can see. And so the introduction is extremely refined and intellectually very sharp, and it’s something that is just being given to you.” I strongly encourage all students to consider pre-registering for Art 105, or at least start planning to incorporate it into your Vassar education. Recognizing schedule restraints for upperclassmen, the Art Department has recently changed registration policies. It is now possible
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for juniors and seniors to NRO the course, and the two semesters do not have to be taken consecutively (although both must be completed at some point). “It’s there, it’s waiting for you when you have the time to do it,” said Nesbit, expressing the new, more open policies that emphasize how important the course is to our development as a whole.
“No other course at Vassar currently covers this vast amount of material in such a comprehensive way.” Zoe Dostal ’13 You would be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t profoundly affected by their experience in Art 105. As Czechowski summed up, “My education here without art history would be incomplete. The department is so amazing that it’s really silly of anybody to pass up on the opportunity to take a class with them. It teaches you how to look at things in a way I don’t think any other discipline can.” For the professors’ part, they are determined to keep Art 105 going for generations of students. “History has given us gifts, and it’s our job to pass them forward. Art 105 is the place really where we can pass it forward to the greatest number of people—in darkness at noon.”
April 11, 2013
Spector is unconventional, unguided Phil Spector David Mamet Muse Productions
Max Rook Columnist
The new HBO film Phil Spector begins with a disclaimer that says “This is a work of fiction. It’s not ‘based on a true story.’ It is a drama inspired by actual persons in a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome.” That is the movie’s first indication that it isn’t going to be a standard biopic, but something much stranger. The film, written and directed by David Mamet and starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, tells the story of Phil Spector’s 2007 trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson. For those who don’t know, Spector was an extremely successful music producer in the 1960s, working with artists from the Ronettes to the Beatles, who became wellknown for his reclusive and erratic behavior. The film presents the trial from the perspective of Spector’s attorney Linda Kenney Baden, played by Helen Mirren, as she attempts to construct a defense for her client. Initial evidence suggests that Spector was likely guilty, but he maintains that Clarkson committed suicide, and Baden’s search for evidence to convince a jury of that fact is the film’s main narrative thread. It’s a subtle distinction, but that narrative is not about determining if Spector actually was guilty. In fact, the film seems uninterested in the question of guilt. Instead, the plot can mostly be boiled down to Baden thinking of some new tactic for her defense, then seeing how that tactic will ultimately fail in court. It’s a flimsy narrative hook, especially when much of the audience already knows how the trial turns out. The premise seems more like an excuse to let Al Pacino play a famously unhinged public figure than anything else. In recent years Pacino has become something of a caricature of himself, giving in-
creasingly exaggerated performances that lack the emotional core of his earlier work. So his appearance here, as he delivers the dialogue of Mamet, a writer known for his theatrical style, seems like a recipe for disaster, but Pacino is surprisingly solid. It isn’t exactly a restrained performance, but he toys with his reputation for scenery-chewing, constantly teetering on the edge of exploding without quite tipping over. When he finally does explode in the film’s climax, it feels like an earned moment, rather than just another of Pacino’s trademark freakouts.
“The premise seems more like an excuse to let Al Pacino play a famously unhinged public figure than anything else.” MAX rooK ’14 Unfortunately, the film has trouble figuring out what do with Pacino’s performance, as much of the running time is spent waiting through tedious discussions of legal proceedings until the next scene between Mirren and Pacino begins. It starts strongly enough, first with an energetic scene between Mirren and Jeffrey Tambor, playing Bruce Cutler, in which Cutler convinces Baden to take on the case, and then transitioning into the extended dialogue of Baden and Spector’s first meeting. Mirren is every bit Pacino’s equal, and she is able to keep up with him while giving a much quieter performance. However, her character becomes less interesting outside of her scenes with Pacino and Tambor, where she is expected to carry the plot forward. After her initial reticence to take the case, Baden devotes herself completely to exonerating Spector, but the film never provides a satisfying explanation for her conversion, which makes her motiva-
tions a little too opaque. Those problems seem to originate in the script, which frequently provides exciting snatches of dialogue but rarely creates an narrative urgency. Similarly, Mamet’s direction excels in the long conversation scenes, which he imbues with a real sense of energy, but he is unable to spice up the more mundane scenes. One directorial choice he makes which is successful is his treatment of violence. We never see the violent act that sets off the trial, but it hangs over the proceedings. Mamet fills the film with indirect representations of violence, from photographs of the crime scene hanging in the background to the various empty holsters hanging in Spector’s house. There is a rather clever sequence near the end of the film where Baden attempts to recreate the shooting and we are able to see how it may have happened, using plastic mannequins and fake blood. In that moment, the film successfully delves deeper into the questions it poses and it does this by treating the topic of violence with a subtle touch, something absent from much of the film. Ultimately, the film never answers the question of why it is necessary to tell this story in this particular way. The opening disclaimer claims the film is only loosely inspired by the actual events of the case, but the movie ends with plain text explaining the aftermath of the trial, just as we have come to expect from movies based on true events. If anything, the disclaimer seems like an excuse to make the film sympathetic to Spector, despite the fact that he was eventually convicted of the murder, but that clearly assumes a lack of intelligence in the audience. The film could have been much more complex if it had acknowledged Spector’s guilt but still depicted him as a human figure, or even if it had argued that he was entirely innocent. Instead, we get a film that doesn’t make an effort to say anything. Its legacy will likely be as a curiosity, a chance to watch some talented actors deliver Mamet’s writing, rather than a successful film in its own right.
A weekly space highlighting the creative pursuits of student-artists
Excuse me, What’s on your spring playlist?
“Riverfriend by Bend.” —Soﬁe Cardinal ‘15
“Oedo 606 by Surkin.” —Max Rollins ‘14
“Missy Elliott.” —Robbie Trocchia ‘14
submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Heartattack by Demi Lovato.” —Taylor Dalton ‘15
“Mentira by Manu Chao..” —Yanée Ferrari ‘15
“Be by Common.”
—Paul Clarke ‘14 On the bustling streets of Cusco’s tourist-choked historical center, backdropped by the remains of the once magnificent buildings of her ancestors, this woman sits most days, inciting passing tourists to drop some coins into her worn, brown hat. “Mamita!” she cajoles to passing gringas on their way to the art district to buy some Cusqueñan paintings or perhaps
an overpriced baby alpaca sweater. The worlds that collide in the center of this great and historical city depict a stark disparity between the campesinos that come down from their hilltop pueblos and the tourists that travel for miles to take in the ancient wonders. A girl in worn out rubber shoes tries to sell finger puppets to a tourist as he eagerly snaps pictures
with his five pound Nikon. Women gather on street corners weaving bracelets. Boys wander the plaza shining shoes for eighty cents a job. And this old woman sits, watching the world, her old hat in hand, calling “Mamita!” to all who walk by. -Leeja Miller ‘14
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Steven Williams, Arts Editor Jack Owen, Arts Editor Jiajing Sun, Assistant Photo Editor
April 11, 2013
Elgin’s leadership integral to volleyball’s continued success
Cassady Bergevin/The Miscellany News
Matt Elgin ’13 not only consistently performs well on the volleyball court, but helps lead his team to its various victories. Eligin plans to continue his volleyball career in Europe after graduation, and then perhaps go on to law school. Amreen Bhasin reporter
Senior Matt Elgin has been playing volleyball since the age of 14. He came to the sport almost by accident when a friend suggested it to him. “I knew I wasn’t going to make the soccer team….and I wasn’t very good at basketball so I thought I would try volleyball (at the suggestion of a friend). I’ve been hooked ever since.” It was a suggestion that turned out well for him, as the middle hitter from Farmington, NY has been one of the strongest performers for Brewers men’s volleyball all of his four years on the team. Over the past four years, with Elgin at the helm, the Brewers have proven themselves to be one of the elite programs in Division III volleyball. Enjoying high rankings nationally, the men have worked hard to maintain and continue to improve their standings. This has been due in large part to Elgin, who will be almost impossible to replace. Freshman outside hitter Erik Halberg agrees that Elgin
has been key to the team’s past accolades. “He’s a really intelligent and quick player,” Halberg wrote in an emailed statemtent. “He’s been the backbone of our offense all year. He’s been really great at getting us hyped and motivated to play hard. He’s going to be really tough to replace next year.” Since his freshman year, Elgin has been a part of the core group of starters for the Brewer men. This year’s team in particular has been wildly successful. “We’ve had a solid season so far,” Elgin stated. “We’ve always been ranked in the Top 15 nationally (we’ve been hovering at #10 for a month now) and were a couple of close losses away from being a Top 5 or 6 team. What we take away from that is that we can play with any team in the country…so overall I’m very proud of how we’ve played this season”. Individually, Elgin has been having the best season of his career, but despite that he continues to try to improve each and every day. “I’ve been very happy with my play this year…
statistically I am having the best season of my career,” he explained. “I worked really hard during the offseason to get in better shape and work on some technical aspects of my game…I believe I could have played better, especially during league games, and hopefully I’ll be able to step it up against our league opponents in playoffs.” Looking forward, the team is hoping to do well this upcoming weekend during league playoffs. Elgin is particularly set on defeating NYU. “If you asked anyone on our team they would tell you our only goal is to win that first playoff game against NYU this Saturday. Whatever happens after that happens and we can worry about that then, but we need to focus on the present moment and prepare for that first step of the postseason. Individually it would be great to get All-American honors again, but that’s not what’s motivating me right now. I want to do everything I can to help our team get this next win.” Volleyball has been an incredibly important part of Elgin’s life at Vassar College and has helped mold him into the person and player he is today. “I came in to this program a cocky, selfish kid,” he admitted. “Over the course of my career I’ve been expected to take on more and more of a leadership role which has forced me to change the type of player and person I am.” Now with that selfish, cocky kid left behind, Elgin always questions what he can do to help make the team better and wonders how he can help achieve team goals before considering his own goals. “I realized just…how important it was that I did what I could for the guys at every level, both mentally and physically on and off the court. If you’re willing to look at yourself and your flaws and are comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone (which is by no means an easy thing to do) you can help your team in ways you never thought possible, and probably learn a thing or two about yourself in the process. Being a senior has just been another step in that journey to better myself to help the team.“ Elgin cites much of his own as well as his team’s success as a result. He is one of five seniors on this year’s team, many of whom com-
prise a core group of starters that have been together for the past four years. Therefore, the team dynamic has been relatively similar over the past few years. “This has enabled us to have great chemistry on the court, and that has certainly been one of our big advantages in close games,” Elgin wrote. Elgin’s pre-match ritual has changed a bit. He used to play up the intensity and get as pumped up as possible and picture himself dominating other teams. “I found that it’s hard for me personally to maintain that level…for so long and my play would suffer as a result.” He now takes a more laidback and calm approach. “I know what I am capable of and go into games with a quiet confidence and let my play do the talking…I’ve found that listening to Disney songs while I am getting ready has helped take my mind off of things and keep me calm and collected until I need to turn it on at game time.” Despite a grueling Volleyball schedule, Elgin has been a huge impact on the overall Vassar campus. He works with the History Majors’ Committee, has worked as a Peer to Peer counselor and has also been a member of the Vassar Symphonic Orchestra for the past three years. Coming to the end of his four years at Vassar College, Elgin is nothing but grateful. “I’ve loved all four years and can’t imagine being anywhere else. The combination of academics, athletics and unique and fun social scene [is]… appealing. I[‘ve] been able to just be me here, something I think a lot of people at other colleges struggle with.” Volleyball has been one of the biggest parts of Elgin’s life thus far. So much so that he plans to continue pursuing it in the future. “I am going to Europe to play professional volleyball this fall. I hope to play for a year or two and make a little money, then eventually bite the bullet and go to law school.” Elgin’s leadership will be put to the test at the upcoming United Volleyball Conference Championships on Saturday, April 13 at Pittsford, NY against New York University. As this season is Elgin’s last with the Brewers, he looks to lead the team, alongside his fellow five seniors, to a strong finish for an all around solid season.
As season closes, rugby in search of bid for Nationals
Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
Men’s rugby is vying for Nationals as they continue their non-conference Division I season. The team’s ultimate goal is to compete for the championship at the end of season’s Beast of the East Tournament. Christian La Du Guest reporter
Vassar men’s rugby is back at it again, leveling foes and kicking up dust. Currently in the heart of their spring season, the team is waiting to receive word on their application for an atlarge bid to Nationals on the strength of their dominant fall season. In the meantime, they have not been content to rest on their laurels but instead have scheduled a tough season with non-conference Division 1 opponents to prepare them for the potential championship bid and the end of season’s Beast of the East tournament. In the period before spring break, rugby was grinding five days a week, with sessions fo-
cused on skill work, team lifts, track runs and film study. This “offseason” has been fruitful for the team facing stiffer competition and in enabling rookies to improve their game with their more experienced teammate, and has allowed them to offer stronger contributions in games. Several rookies received their first start on A-side, moving up from B-side during the program’s spring break trip to Spain and have laid claim to a more permanent starting spot based on their success. Senior captain Joe Karpmann highlighted several newcomers in particular for their achievements. “[Freshman] Alan Hagins has done a remarkable job stepping into the fullback role for the A-side, and
even though he looks raw, he has the potential to hold that position down for the next three years. Zach Rippe and Louis Khourey are freshman second rows have stepped into the A-side at times this spring. With some good work this offseason, they should also be able to grow into perennial starters. Roman Kopit is the old man of the team. Roman is the Hebrew language fellow, and was unable to play on the A-side in the fall due to league regulations. He has been able to play this spring and his play has shown great improvement.” Spain itself, called “Tour,” was a magnificent experience for the program as a whole. Coach Tony Brown’s own international background and playing experience leads him to try and provide some taste of that to his current crop of students, and he has taken them to Ireland and Barbados in the recent past. Providing this incredible opportunity not only creates a close bond between those who make the trip, but it adds whole other levels of incentive to work hard and represent Vassar, as well as the country, abroad. Not every vassar student has the chance to go JYA. Rugby, however, offers student-atheltes a chance to travel the world and get a glimpse of life all over the world, teaching about global cultural aspects. Karpmann reflected on his experience this trip, having traveled on each during his time at Vassar. “Spain [is]... always a wonderful experience to go play rugby in a different country. Wonderful place, beautiful country with great people. Tour always builds team camaraderie in an unbelievable way. It was also great to get a tour win [3/16 vs Hortazela], something the men haven’t done in many years. Tour also allowed our rookies to both bond and grow as rugby players.” The season is coming to a close, with two more games left plus Beast of the East (and hopefully Nationals), including the Brewers hosting their conference rival Marist this Sun-
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
day at 11 a.m. and Albany on Saturday, April 27. Marist beat Vassar twice in the fall—Vassar’s only losses of the season—both by one try, and Marist’s win sent them, instead of the Brewers, to Nationals for the Tri-State Conference bid. To end the heated grudge match between the two teams, the rugby team will need to further improve itself and better integrate its injured players, like senior captain Ian Ruginski. “After a series of injuries both this season and last to starting hooker [senior] Jehan Shams, [sophomore] Alex Voynow has really stepped up with his performance both at set piece and in the loose,” said Karpmann. “As scrumhalf [junior] Karl’s service and decision making have continued to improve. I’m looking forward to watching his performance next fall as well.” Vassar has had an impressive run the past few years. This spring has presented new challenges for the team, but Karpmann believes the team is learning from them. “This spring has really tested the character of a team that has been used to winning and winning big the past few seasons. We continue to work our asses off at practice and improve every weekend. This team still has a hell of a lot of fight left and I expect big performances at Beast,” stated Karpmann. The veteran heavy squad has supplemented itself with up and coming underclassmen, but a strong crew of seniors-Zach Kent, Dan Flynn, Jerry Dieudonne, Alan Kenney, and Nic Placeres-will be making a strong push these last few weeks. “We owe Marist a good beat down after our playoff loss in the fall,” explained Karpmann. “The goal from the beginning has always been and always will be to win the Beast. I think we have the potential and ability to accomplish both of those things.” Come to the farm on April 14 and 27 to enjoy the spring weather and support Vassar student-athletes in competing in one of the most physical and compelling sports in the world.
April 11, 2013
Love of sports brings families together Money drives top athletics programs Luka Ladan Columnist
“Quantifying my love for Syracuse basketball is actually impossible. It is something that will forever link my dad and I, and it constitutes some of our best memories. I think that knowing how much the game matters to both of us and how much we care about Syracuse is entirely unique and special.” My roommate here illustrates just how impactful sports—no matter what sport it may be or the level of competition—proves to be for fans everywhere, transcending all of the crude statistics, historic performances and coaching tactics. The power of the game lies in the fact that it’s always more than a game. And the way that the ball bounces in a national semifinal or an exhibition or a high school tryout doesn’t hold the most significance in the long run. For my roommate, sophomore Jonathan Safir, whom I quoted in the introduction, Syracuse University is what unites him and his dad, but there are heartfelt stories like his everywhere—and that’s the ultimate point of sports. Basketball, soccer, or whatever else it may be always mean something more than the roll of the ball, that one defensive possession, his offensive execution down the stretch. In the end, these are just minor workings in the larger purpose of athletic competition—its ability to bring together fans stands out above the rest, and the memories of togetherness that something like the Orange can produce proves the very worth of sports. I have always tried to quantify the love for sports—a player, a team, a style of play— and it’s more difficult than one would expect. While watching the Syracuse Orange take on the Michigan Wolverines this past Saturday night, the whole time I was left asking myself some very basic questions. Why exactly do we care so much about these
guys running up and down the floor? Why does someone like Michael Carter-Williams or Trey Burke—two of the best collegiate players in the country, by the way—matter so much to someone like my college roommate? Why exactly does he care so much about MCW and his shot selection and his turnover rate? And then it dawned on me. The true impact of sports—going beyond the trivial percentages and records and averages—lies in the unquantifiable and immeasurable. Something like the Orange can matter so much because there’s so much that statistical analyses cannot calculate and track; something like the bond between father and son can be strengthened and eventually blossom through a shared love for sports. All of the statistics in the world can’t quite quantify the beauty of that strong relationship. Bonds. Memories. Magical moments. Sports can provide all of this and then some, regardless of winning percentages, efficiency ratings and career averages. They bring us closer together, and that’s no small thing. The ability of sports to transcend the game being played certainly doesn’t escape me, either. In my roommate’s case, the bright orange hue of Syracuse University has united father and son for years, and will continue to do so for many more. For me, the bond between father and son was solidified by the historic green and white worn by Boston Celtics present and past. The trials and tribulations of a Boston sports franchise over the past decade brought my dad and I ever closer and closer—we had in common the competitive juices of Kevin Garnett and that sweet stroke of Ray Allen’s jumpshot for numerous years, and our bond tightened and tightened with each and every evening broadcast on CSNNE. As the Celtics navigated their way through the postseason and engineered a breathtaking championship performance in June 2008, my father and
I watched on our comfortable living room couch, just like we had back in October through March. But it wasn’t the winning that brought us together—or the losing, or the incredible individual performances that we witnessed along the way. None of that stuff mattered. The only thing that endured—through thick and thin, through the exciting wins and demoralizing losses, through instant classics and injuries—was the bond that formed through those nightly NBA games. It’s precisely because we were together for such extended periods of time—three or four hours at once—that something so ordinary could mean so very much. Again, the unquantifiable. All of the stats and breakdowns and pregame shows couldn’t quite capture the valuable time that my father and I spent together. Now, as a sophomore at Vassar College whose primary residence is the rundown, but charming, Cushing House, I watch these Boston Celtics by myself. Alone. On my computer in a creaky first floor dorm room. I watch as the proud warriors that I’ve grown up with limp on into the postseason without the electrifying Rajon Rondo, but with all of the same heart and hustle and confidence that doesn’t just go away all at once. I watch as they steer right into the clutches of the explosive New York Knicks, who don’t rely as much on heart and hustle as shooting and shooting. As I stare right at the impending misery of an all-too-likely first round defeat—as heart and hustle and Paul Pierce just don’t quite put enough points on the board—I remember those winter nights with my dad, when there was nothing else to do but watch an NBA game and listen to Tommy Heinsohn ramble on. I recall the excitement and the togetherness and the wonderful memories, understanding that these are rather different times. And that I miss the good old times, mightily.
Ware inspires Louisville’s rise to the top Zach Rippe Columnist
This year’s NCAA Men’s Tournament has certainly been one to remember. From the numerous early-round upsets of teams like Georgetown to the numerous Cinderella stories of Florida Gulf Coast University and near championship contender Wichita State to cringeworthy moments like the Kevin Ware incident, there have been various dimensions of excitement as countless brackets have been annihilated. After all of the upsets and antics, however, there was still a championship game to be played. This past Monday night, the Louisville Cardinals faced off against the Michigan Wolverines. While Michigan fought tremendously hard to make the title game as a four seed, knocking off both the number one seeded Kansas Jayhawks and the tough Syracuse Orange, it was the story of Louisville, however, that perhaps best captured the essence of the tournament. After easily handling low seeded teams like the North Carolina A&T Aggies and the Colorado State Rams, they defeated the 12th seeded Oregon Ducks to match up against the 2nd seeded Duke Blue Devils in the elite 8. It was this game, specifically, that defined Louisville’s title run. During a close first half, Louisville’s Kevin Ware horrifically injured himself, sparking something extra in the Cardinals. From that moment on, this tournament was about more than just a win for Louisville. It was a win for a fallen teammate, a win for a hurt family member. Louisville went on to crush Duke by 22 points. Then against the Cinderella team, Wichita State, they battled from 12 down to win an inspirational game that set them up for a title. Add in the fact that Head Coach Rick Pitino had just been accepted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and you have all the makings of a team destined to win. It was clear that Kevin Ware would be cutting down the nets no matter whom Louisville was playing for the championship.
The big game itself was extremely intense. Michigan went up early by 12, but Louisville roared back to finish the half down by only one. The game itself was extremely fast paced and exciting as teams traded deep shot after deep shot and alley-oop for alley-oop. Sure, there were some close calls and blown calls, just like in every other basketball game ever, but nothing that severely impacted the game. Late in the second half, the Cardinals began to pull away. With 50 seconds left, Michigan had a chance to make it close once again. However, Tim Hardaway Jr. stepped out of bounds when he grabbed his rebound, giving Louisville an extra possession. That is exactly what this game came down to: little moments that seemed to sway the tide in Louisville’s direction.
“From that moment on, this tournament was about more than just a win for Louisville. It was a win for a fallen teammate.” Zach Rippe ’16 It was the spirit of Kevin Ware that had propelled Louisville to their first championship since 1986. Whenever they were down, they miraculously fought back. When they needed a big shot, they hit it. It may have been the team on the court that outscored Michigan, but it was the family off and around it that truly won. Rick Pitino’s recent string of good fortune that included winning a horse race, his son getting a coach-
ing job at Minnesota and being inducted into the Hall of Fame that might have added some extra mojo. And don’t forget about the crowd. They were electric. But there was something about Kevin Ware’s injury that lingered throughout the competition. Watching this game, you knew they were doing it for him. Just look at the improbable story of Luke Hancock. A junior with a season 7.7 points per game came off the bench to provide a performance of historic proportions. He scored 22 huge points, including a three-point dagger that gave the Cardinals a 10 point lead late in the second half and was named Most Outstanding player. Everything that could go right did. Michigan tried their best to match this magic with freshman Spike Albrecht, who scored 17 in the first half (much more than his average of 1.8 points per game). But, again, for every time Michigan battled, Louisville battled harder. Their big men proved too overpowering as they wore Michigan out. This game, this tournament, even the final moments of sheer bliss for the Louisville Cardinals proved why there is nothing quite like March Madness. From fans filling out brackets and putting their hopes in random numbered teams, to the fans putting their energy and spirit into their school’s team, to the players putting their minds, bodies and spirits on the line for their teammates, families and schools—there is no professional sport that can compare. For as much as I love the NBA, it can never equal the excitement of these NCAA tournament games. After the season, LeBron is still LeBron regardless of whether he wins a championship or not. But these guys, guys like Luke Hancock and Spike Albrecht, they can captivate an entire nation for one night. This was their moment, their team’s moment and it felt so incredibly genuine. That spirit that Louisville carried with them through this incredible championship run could be felt by every single person watching Monday night’s game.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Eli J. Vargas I Columnist
The world of Division 1 college sports is built upon money, but we only get to see the product: the star athletes. In fact, we don’t even associate DI sports with money, because all of the players are not getting paid, while schools are making millions of dollars off of their talents. Think about it: if some coaches are getting million dollar contracts, then there must be some sort of large revenue flow. If you would look under the surface, you would soon find that things are not always as they seem. First of all, student-athletes are more athlete than student, and with so much money on the line, most college sports teams only care that athletes get good enough grades to play. As a result it all comes down to money, and the only time that we get a glimmer of what is going on underneath the surface is when the latest scandal comes out concerning student-athletes and their coaches. Recently two major division one college programs have been discovered to be putting the monetary value of their sporting programs over the welfare of their athletes. This is a very sad and sobering thing for college sports fans. Imagine if you were a mother of an athlete, and you put your trust in a major program to put your child’s academics and wellbeing first. And for all you knew, this is exactly what was happening, until reports and videos surface that your student was being cussed out and having basketballs thrown at his head by his coach. This is the same coach that came into your living room, and told you he would treat your son or daughter like one of his own and look out for him or her as best as he could. Well this is exactly what happened with the Rutgers University basketball program. This past week, a 12-hour video was released showing Rutgers head basketball coach Mike Rice throwing basketballs at athletes’ faces along while shoving and kicking them. In a bizzare attempt to be representative of what fans would yell at them, he screamed obscenities and homophobic slurs at his players every practice. But what makes it worse is that the athletic director was shown this footage months before they went viral, and he settled for suspending Mike Rice for three games and subjecting him to anger management classes. So after covering it up, and firing an assistant coach who confronted the athletic director about this lack of discipline, Rutgers University finally made a decent choice in choosing to fire Mike Rice and the athletic director. But in my opinion this does not do justice to the student-athletes, because this was all just to save face. If Rutgers would have had it their way, Mike Rice would still be coaching. As an indication of how effective Mike Rice’s coaching techniques were, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights finished 15-16, good enough for twelfth in the Big East. Compared to this emotionally charged news, was the report that the Auburn University football team altered players’ grades and withheld positive drug test results for synthetic marijuana, so that star players could participate in the BCS National Championship Game. Sadly this is just a common occurrence for Division 1 football programs. Auburn is on the list of numerous major D1 football programs that have put football before academics, and a positive image over the truth. With news like this coming out almost yearly, football recruits must be getting the idea that as a football player, football comes first, and academics second. This is a horrible message, because there is no respect being shown for the learning process and higher learning by sports programs and athletes alike. The NFL is not helping either by recently implementing a rule that players must play until their junior years to qualify for the NFL draft. With all of the money coming into major athletic programs like these, the risks are little compared to the rewards available. There is no immediate solution to this glaring problem, but something must surely be done to restore balance to the respect that higher institutions must hold. Among concealing test results and grade alterations, Auburn bribed players to return for their senior seasons instead of declaring for the NFL draft. So again, this all circles back to money in major college sports. And why should we expect anything different? Universities make tens of millions of dollars off of television deals, so with that much money at stake, everything underneath the surface is just another trivial thing that must be done in order to secure another television contract and keep the money flowing in.
April 11, 2013
Women’s Track produces multiple qualifying runners Christopher Brown
assistant sports editor
courtesy of Katherine Warrick
With a short spring season underway, Vassar women’s track has started off with some of their strongest in season races ever. With multiple school records set so early, women’s track in on a path to perform well in the Liberty League Championship and the Division 3 NCAA finals in the upcoming month. Women’s track is a relatively new program at Vassar and each season sees a growth in numbers and talent. With a growing program comes loftier goals. Sophomore captain Nina Anderson expressed her view on the outcome of an ever-growing program. “Because this is such a new program, every season is more successful than the last. We have so many athletes this season who are hitting personal records, breaking school records, and qualifying for ECACs already, it’s almost like our personal goals change on a weekly basis.” During one of their earliest meets in the season, at the Monmouth University Invitational on March 30, the team ran one of their best season openers in the program’s history. Sophomore Heather Ingraham ran an ECAC qualifying time of 59.00 seconds during her event, placing fifth in a mixed field of Division 1 and Division 3, and leading the Vassar team to an impressive set of scores. Sophomore Ariel Bridges started her season with a strong 200 meter, coming in with a time of 26.52 seconds, only .02 seconds away from ECAC qualification. Bridges and Ingraham joined Anderson and sophomore Payton Johnson to run a strong 4 by 400 meter relay with a time 4:09.39. “It was awesome to be racing again, there’s honestly nothing like that first race of the season,” Anderson wrote, describing the team’s performance at Monmouth. “Everyone was nervous but our coaches did a great job preparing us; we were ready to go. We had people hitting times that they hadn’t been able to run until the end of last year’s season, so I feel pretty confident about our team’s success this season.” The teams next impressive meet came on
April 5 at the Ramapo College Roadrunner Invitational. Bridges and Ingraham achieved two more ECAC qualifications, while senior Kelly Holmes picked up one for herself in the 1,500 meter run, where she placed third with a time of 4:46.03. Bridges’ 100 meter time, 12.66, tied the school record and earned her a spot at ECACs. In the 200, she had a stunning 25.99, setting a new school record and easily qualifying for ECACs with her fifth place finish. Ingraham ran a strong ECAC qualifying 200 meter dash in 26.34. Ingraham also qualified to ECACs with her 12.75 performance in the 100 Meter Dash. Freshman Sarah King ran an impressive debut in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, finishing third in 12:05.83, a mere six seconds away from ECACs. Head coach James McCowan is happy with his team’s excellent performance so far. “Things are off to a good start,” McCowan explained in an emailed statement. “Until [the Liberty League Championships] we are really working on getting each individual the experience and training they need to make their individual goals, which collectively will be our best team effort. Ultimately, we are looking to get everyone to their highest level of ability.” Joining McCowan on the coaching staff are Assistant coaches Justin Harris and Meghan Young and volunteer Assistant coaches Ron Sonitsch and John Brooks. The coaching staff takes on the job of motivating the team and getting the individual runners to perform their best. “There are many ways to get the best out of people,” expressed Harris. “We push to create opportunities that get our athletes to learn both self-awareness and self-confidence. This is achieved by encouraging and doing our best to model how clear pathways of communication often lead to trust and then to success.” Along with the coaches, captains play an important role in the success of the team. As one of the captains, Anderson expresses how easy a team women’s track is to manage. “It really isn’t a struggle to keep this team motivated. D3 runners are generally really committed be-
Vivian Ford ’15 runs at a recent women’s track meet. The team is actually fairly new—and with that, every next season is more ambitious and successful than the last. Their next game will be April 12 at Rensselaer Polytechnic. cause we chose to be on this team. We aren’t on scholarship and we don’t get a lot of credit for what we do, we run simply because we love it. As a captain, our job is really just to be a link between the coaches and the rest of the team. Our coaches just want us to be good teammates and leaders. We help people out in the weight room, lead event groups, and do some of the behind the scenes stuff so that the team functions a little more smoothly.” As the season begins to take shape, the team looks ahead to future races and regional championships. Their next event will be the Rensselaer Polytechnic Invitational on April 13. Liberty League Finals will be held at Vassar this year on April 20, while NCAA finals will be hosted by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on May 22. Coach Harris is extremely optimistic about the progress and outcome of this current sea-
Students saddled with task of recruiting members, eliminating polo stereotypes POLO continued from page 1
coming to Vassar, and she knows firsthand how instructive the team is. “We teach you everything you need to know not just about the game but about riding horses as well,” she explained. “Anyone that puts their mind to it can play...That makes it sound easier than it is, but the truth is that if you put in the time and effort to practice, then you will vastly improve.” Sophomore team member Elizabeth Connell can attest to this learning experience. “I didn’t know how to play before,” she wrote in an emailed statement, “but my roommate and I thought it’d be a fun adventure to try. He’d never ridden a horse, and after a couple of weeks he was able to scrimmage with us.” Team President sophomore Natalie Nicelli agrees. “To be successful, you really just have to be determined to learn, but having a competitive spirit doesn’t hurt! Anybody can play polo and be good at it, you just have to practice.” Each week the team travels to Newburgh where they pay a small fee to work with the horses stabled at Gardnertown Farms. All team members attend the same practices, and those with less experience have a quick lesson on how to ride before they join the other members in drills and, eventually, the scrimmages at the end of practice. The owner of the barn, Bill Deckner, coaches the team, and Connell is glad to work with him. “He loves the sport,” she wrote in an emailed statement, “and he loves exposing the sport to others to love over the competitive element.” Deckner has shared his enthusiasm with students like freshman Martin Man, who are glad to have found polo through the team when they may not have had the chance to otherwise. “I like polo because I love riding horses!” he explained. “Coming from Hong Kong, there were very, very few opportunities
to ride...It’s also just a cool sport because what other sports has you hitting balls whilst riding on horses with a big hammer on a long stick?” Each game is 28 minutes long and divided into four periods, called chukkers. There are no breaks during play unless a penalty is called, and the sport can get physically intense. “During these 7 minutes,” while you’re trying to get the ball into the other team’s goal, the other team is riding into you (as in, literally riding their horse into your horse) and blocking your mallet so that you won’t be able to complete your swing as part of their defense,” Nicelli wrote. The Polo Team plays arena polo, which differs from outdoor polo in location and utilizes a larger ball. The season is essentially yearround, as the practices go from mid-October to April, and the team competes against other top-ranked teams such as Brown University, University of Connecticut and Skidmore College. Nicelli has had a good experience in many games, but remembers one against University of Pennsylvania in particular. “It was just really exciting, albeit intimidating, to play in a real polo game against an actual polo team. Even though I have ridden horses my entire life, because polo is known as the ‘rich man’s sport’ and the ‘sport of Kings’, I’d never pictured myself playing it, so playing in my first game was just a really memorable experience.” Connell agrees that polo tends to have somewhat elitist connotations and is harder to find opportunities to play outside of college. “Polo is a game that, for the majority of students, is only going to be accessible for the four years we have here, and personally, I don’t think enough people take advantage of that. You really don’t need to know how to ride coming in, you’re welcome to drop it if you don’t like it, and it is so incredibly cheap in comparison to any other experience you’ll get around horses.”
For Connell, the biggest downside of participating in polo is the constant traveling to practices, but adds that it is not impossible to fit into one’s schedule. “The greatest inconvenience is that it’s so far away, so you’re really looking to devote about four hours a week minimum between practice and driving time, but the team is great about providing transportation and working around everyone’s schedules, and it’s definitely worth it. It’s about as much of a commitment as an intramural sport weekly...I don’t find it difficult to balance with classes at all.” Man echoes Connell’s concerns and had to wait before fully committing to the team. “I was interested last semester when I got here,” he remembered. “I went to an introductory lesson/practise with the team in the autumn to try it out, but because my schedule didn’t fit with the practise times I couldn’t do it. This semester I had time so I can go once a week out of the two practises we have.” The Polo Team also fights for a presence on campus. “Vassar should know that we actually exist!” Sanfuentes exclaimed. “Countless times I’ve told people I’m on the polo team and have been met with quizzical looks and responses like, “We have a polo team?” Despite the travel and the costs and the lack of recognition, members of the Polo Team are excited about their sport and enjoy the opportunities it presents. Sanfuentes is glad she decided to begin playing. “I love polo because it takes everything I’ve learned about riding horses and challenges it,” she commented. “That’s what makes it so rewarding. Once you finally start to consistently make contact with the ball and watch it go sailing down the field, it gives you a fantastic feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. There’s a sound that the ball makes when you hit it just right. It confirms that all of your hard work is paying off.”
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son given past performances in the ever-growing program. “Considering we’ve had individuals qualify for 6 out of the 9 past NCAA Championships we are in the process of first stabilizing that expectation of excellence and then building upon it.” Coach McCowan knows the effort that goes into being a student athlete, and is extremely proud of his team as a whole. “Ultimately, I think they all just want to be respected for the effort and passion they put into their work—in the classroom, on the track, and in all the other facets of their lives as Vassar students,” expressed McCowan. “Not everyone can do what it takes to be a Vassar student—this is a select group of people. Similarly, not many people can do what it takes to be a college track athlete, and even fewer are willing to make the commitment that it takes to maximize that opportunity. That is no small thing.”
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